Andy Serkis' 'Mowgli' Moves to Netflix

Warner Bros. had previously set an Oct. 19 theatrical date for the 'Jungle Book' adaptation.

Netflix is joining Andy Serkis on his journey into the jungle.

The streaming service has picked up the rights to Mowgli from Warner Bros., The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. 

Warner Bros. previously had set a release date of Oct. 19 for the film, a gritty live-action/CG retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. It will now debut some time in 2019 on Netflix. 

Mowgli's development dates back to 2012, with a number of directors, including Alejandro Inarritu and Ron Howard, in talks for the project at one point or another. Serkis boarded the project in 2014, which would be his directorial debut, around the same time as Jon Favreau’s Disney live-action remake of the animated 1967 Jungle Book was greenlit. In spite of the competition, Warner Bros. moved forward with the project, dating the film for an October 2016 release. But the studio pushed back the release to October 2017 before Favreau’s Jungle Book in came out in April 2016. Favreau's version went on to gross $966 million at the global box office and was a critical hit as well.

By moving to Netflix, Mowgli will at least be able to avoid box office comparisons to Favreau's Jungle Book, which won the Oscar for visual effects. Mowgli sees Serkis plays Baloo through performance capture, with other stars including Benedict Cumberbatch (Shere Khan), Cate Blanchett (Kaa), Christian Bale (Bagheera), Matthew Rhys (John Lockwood) and Rohan Chand (Mowgli).

Netflix has made a habit of acquiring films that perhaps studios preferred not to release theatrically. It paid Paramount more than $50 million for The Cloverfield Paradox, which received dismal reviews but caused a splash when Netflix announced during the Super Bowl the film would be available for streaming after the game. Netflix also picked up Michael Pena's sci-fi thriller Extinction in February after Universal had removed it from the schedule without explanation months earlier.

Serkis told THR earlier this year that the film would be a darker retelling of the tale than the Disney version.

"This story is about identity. It’s about being other: Mowgli growing up as an other in the world of animals and trying to fit in and then in the world of man, and it takes place in both realms," he said. "And then the approach was rather than looking at it as a piece of spectacle, it’s a very emotional and dramatic piece about the connection between the animals and Mowgli, and humans and Mowgli."