11:48am PT by Tatiana Siegel , Borys Kit
Ron Howard in Talks to Direct Warner Bros.' 'The Jungle Book' (Exclusive)
Ron Howard is in talks to direct and produce Warner Bros.' live-action take on The Jungle Book.
Howard is poised to take the reins a month after Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel) fell off the project due to scheduling conflicts. (Inarritu is in postproduction on Birdman, his first comedy.)
Callie Kloves wrote the screenplay for The Jungle Book, which is based on a story from an 1894 Rudyard Kipling collection. Kloves is the daughter of Steve Kloves, who wrote all of Warner Bros.' Harry Potter films and is on board to produce The Jungle Book. Howard also would produce via his Imagine Entertainment as well as Imagine's Brian Grazer.
Set in the jungles of India, the story centers on Mowgli, an orphaned boy raised by wolves who befriends Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther as he spars with the ferocious tiger Shere Khan.
With Howard in place, Warner Bros. is able to keep pace with Disney, which has its own live-action adaptation in the works with Jon Favreau at the helm. Disney also made the 1967 animated classic The Jungle Book. But because the Kipling story is in the public domain, both studios are free to pursue their projects.
It has been more than a decade since Howard directed a film aimed at kids. His last family-friendly movie was 2000's Jim Carrey starrer How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and before that, he directed 1988's Willow.
Howard, who directed the racing world pic Rush, is in postproduction on an adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick's best-seller In the Heart of the Sea. It is unclear whether or not Jungle Book would be his next picture. He's also attached to direct an adaptation of Dan Brown's Inferno, part of Sony's Da Vinci Code franchise. Howard is scheduled to direct Mena, the true story of pilot Barry Seal, who transported contraband for the CIA and the Medellin cartel in the 1980s.
He is repped by CAA and attorney Jacob Bloom.