Netflix just made one of their biggest acquisitions ever. The streaming service has acquired the global rights to Mowgli from Warner Bros. The studio was set to release director Andy Serkis' take on The Jungle Book this fall. Instead, the movie will now make its debut worldwide on Netflix sometime in 2019. Though, it will still get a limited theatrical release in order to showcase the 3D version that Andy Serkis has been working on.
The amount that Netflix paid to gain the rights to Mowgli from Warner Bros. hasn't been disclosed, but this is by far the biggest movie that the company has purchased from a studio. Earlier this year, Netflix made a big splash by debuting The Cloverfield Paradox, which they acquired from Paramount and released as a surprise following the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, most fans and critics were unhappy with the final product. There's no telling if Mowgli will suffer the same critical fate. However, the footage that has been released via the movie's teaser trailer is impressive.
In all likelihood, this has nothing to do with the movie being of poor quality. At one point, Warner Bros. was in a race with Disney to see who could get their live-action take on The Jungle Book in theaters first. Disney beat them to it, with Jon Favreau's take on Rudyard Kipling's tale grossing just shy of $1 billion in 2016. In light of that, Warner Bros. took their time to craft Mowgli as a darker movie and attempted to distinguish the project as much as they could. Netflix eliminates the concern of the movie having to perform at the box office and provides a large platform. Andy Serkis views this as a positive for the project. Here's what he had to say about it.
"I'm really excited about Netflix for Mowgli. Now, we avoid comparisons to the other movie 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."
This movie boasts a prestigious cast, with Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris among those featured in the ensemble. Andy Serkis, in addition to directing, also plays the bear Baloo. Like Disney's version of The Jungle Book, this will be a blend of live-action and CGI. Warner Bros. had previously planned to release the movie in theaters on October 19.
Since Netflix subscribers won't have to spend any additional money to watch Mowgli, it's likely the movie will attract many more eyeballs than it would have with a traditional theatrical release. At the present time, it's unclear how the company will handle the 3D release. In most cases, Netflix only does very limited theatrical runs for movies they feel have awards season potential. This is a unique case for them. Netflix has yet to set a premiere date for Mowgli, but it will debut next year. This news comes to us courtesy of Deadline.