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Warner Bros. Pictures Sells Mowgli to Netflix for a 2019 Launch

The Andy Serkis-directed Mowgli is bypassing a theatrical release and going straight to Netflix for a global release in 2019 on the streaming service. Warner Bros. Pictures had set an October 26 release for the motion capture/live-action film, but Deadline says that Mowgli has been sold to Netflix instead.

The site says that a theatrical component has been built in to the deal, so that audiences can see Serkis’ 3D version of the film, but Netflix generally has not received a great deal of support from theater chains. We’ll have to see how many screens it actually gets.

“I’m really excited about Netflix for Mowgli,” Serkis said. “Now, we avoid comparisons to the other movie [Disney’s 2016 release The Jungle Book] and it’s a relief not to have the pressure. I’ve seen the 3D version, and it’s exceptional, a different view from the 2D version, really lush and with great depth, and there will be some kind of theatrical component for that. 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. 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.

While this is easily Netflix’s biggest feature acquisition, the company has previously bought the rights to The Cloverfield Paradox, the both New Line’s upcoming Shaft movie and Paramount’s Annihilation for international distribution.

The story follows the upbringing of the human child Mowgli, raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India. As he learns the often harsh rules of the jungle, under the tutelage of a bear named Baloo and a panther named Bagheera, Mowgli becomes accepted by the animals of the jungle as one of their own. All but one: the fearsome tiger Shere Khan. But there may be greater dangers lurking in the jungle, as Mowgli comes face to face with his human origins.

The actors performing the roles of the story’s central animal characters are: Oscar winner Christian Bale as the cunning panther, Bagheera; Oscar winner Cate Blanchett as the sinister snake, Kaa; Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch as the fearsome tiger, Shere Khan; Oscar nominee Naomie Harris as Nisha, the female wolf, who adopts the baby Mowgli as one of her cubs; Andy Serkis as the wise bear, Baloo; Peter Mullan as the leader of the wolf pack, Akela; Jack Reynor as Mowgli’s Brother Wolf; Eddie Marsan as Nisha’s mate, Vihaan; and Tom Hollander as the scavenging hyena, Tabaqui.

On the human side, Matthew Rhys is Lockwood; Freida Pinto is Messua; and young actor Rohan Chand will play Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves.

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