Pathe, BBC team for live-action 'Jungle Book'


LONDON -- French-owned Pathe and the BBC are coming together to back a $50 million budgeted live-action movie based on Rudyard Kipling's "Jungle Book" stories.

The deal will see BBC natural history moviemaker John Downer, who filmed the Emmy-nominated drama "Pride," take the camera to the updated "Jungle Book" tale.

Working from a script by Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle, Downer says he plans to use CGI techniques to make the animals in the story appear to talk.

The film, scheduled to begin shooting in September, will shoot live sequences in India and mix in film of trained animals on jungle sets in the U.K. via blue screen.

Michelle Fox ("102 Dalmatians") will produce for Downer's company, Pathe and the BBC said. The picture is expected to take two years to film because of the complicated techniques involved.

Kipling's "Jungle" stories tell the story of Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves, who is then kidnapped by monkeys, before being rescued by his animal friends, including Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther.

Downer said it has long been his ambition to "portray one of the greatest stories of all time just as the author intended -- with real live talking animals inhabiting the jungle world of Kipling's India."

He added: "The script is full of thrills and humor, but it also reminds us of our place in nature and our duty to protect the wild places of the world."

Pathe will distribute the film in the U.K. and France and handle sales in the rest of the world.