Netflix Grants Exclusive Theatrical Release to Andy Serkis' 'Mowgli'

Director Andy Serkis’ Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, a new retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, is the latest Netflix offering to get a limited theatrical release before it appears on the streaming service. Netflix announced Nov. 7 that the film will have exclusive theatrical engagements beginning Nov. 29 in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and London before being released globally by Netflix on Dec. 7. It then will have an expanded theatrical release in additional theaters in the U.S. and the U.K.

In Mowgli, Serkis, a pioneer in the art of performance capture, having played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings movies and Caesar in The Planet of the Apes movies, directs such A-list actors as Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Freida Pinto, Matthew Rhys and Naomie Harris, all playing jungle denizens, in the new version of Kipling’s tale, with Rohan Chand playing the human boy who finds himself in their in their midst.  

The film was originally produced by Warner Bros., which saw Disney’s Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau, beat it to the screen in April 2016. Warners, which had originally planned to release Serkis’ movie in October 2016, moved its release to October 2017 and then to Oct. 19 of this year before selling the film to Netflix, which announced its acquisition this past summer, slating the movie for a 2019 online debut.

Netflix, which had been operating under a strict day-and-date policy, with those films it gave a limited theatrical release appearing in theaters on the same day they hit the streaming service, recently began to make exceptions to that policy, announcing that it would give exclusive releases in advance of a movie’s online debut to several upcoming awards hopefuls — Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, the Coen brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Susanne Bier’s Bird Box.