Netflix Buys Andy Serkis’ ‘Mowgli’ Off Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Netflix have acquired one of their biggest films yet.

The streaming giant has acquired worldwide rights to Mowgli, the upcoming CGI live action film directed by Andy Serkis, from Warner Bros. The studio had the film scheduled to hit the US on October 19 and Roadshow Films had lined it up for Australian release on November 1, but Netflix will now be releasing the film sometime next year.

Deadline broke the news, reporting that Netflix’s release plans for the film will include a theatrical component so that viewers can see the film in 3D, although there’s no word on what countries will get to see it in cinemas.

It’s quite the get for Netflix. Mowgli features a cast that includes Christian Bale as the panther Bagheera, Cate Blanchett as the snake Kaa, Benedict Cumberbatch as the tiger Shere Khan, and Serkis as the bear Baloo, among others. Rohan Chand (Bad Words) plays the titular boy who is raised by wolves. Warner Bros. was at one point in a race with Disney, who had Jon Favreau developing  a live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s public domain work, The Jungle Book. Disney won, delivering a $US966 million box office hit and leaving Serkis and co. to take their time and fine tune their version.

As the first trailer suggested, Mowgli is to be a much darker film that Disney’s take, an aspect that Serkis says makes Netflix the perfect home.

“What excites me most is the forward thinking at Netflix in how to present this, and the message of the movie. They understand this is a darker telling that doesn’t fit it into a four quadrant slot,” Serkis told Deadline.

“It’s really not meant for young kids, though I think it’s possible that 10 or above can watch it. It was always meant to be PG-13, and this allows us to go deeper, with darker themes, to be scary and frightening in moments. The violence between animals is not gratuitous, but it’s definitely there. This way of going allows us to get the film out without compromise.”

Serkis says he doesn’t consider Mowgli to be a big blockbuster film per se. “It’s hard to quantify. It has the scale of a blockbuster, but it’s somewhere between Life of Pi and an Apes movie. It has that reality to it, same as Okja had.”

Netflix continues to pounce on pictures that studios may be looking to offload for one reason or another. The company bought The Cloverfield Paradox from Paramount Pictures for over $US50 million, Paramount also sold Netflix international rights (outside the US) for Annihilation, and Netflix earlier this year bought Michael Peña-starring sci-fi film Extinction from Universal after it was removed from their release schedule.

Stay tuned for what release date Netflix hands Mowgli.

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