The Jungle Book is a 2016 American fantasy adventure film directed by Jon Favreau, written by Justin Marks, and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. Based on Rudyard Kipling's eponymous collective works, the film is a live-action/CGI reimagining of Walt Disney's 1967 animated film of the same name. The film stars and introduces Neel Sethi as Mowgli and features the voices of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito and Christopher Walken. Set in the remote jungle of India, the film tells the story of Mowgli, an orphaned human boy who, guided by his animal guardians, sets out on a journey of self-discovery while evading the threatening Shere Khan.
The film will be released in North America in the Disney Digital 3D, RealD 3D and IMAX 3D formats on April 15, 2016.
Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a man-cub raised by the Indian wolf couple Raksha (Lupita Nyong'o) and Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) ever since he was brought to them as a baby by the black panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley). Bagheera trains Mowgli to learn the ways of the wolves but Mowgli faces certain challenges and lags behind his wolf siblings, and Bagheera berates him for using human tricks like tool building, instead of learning the ways of the pack.
One day, during the dry season, all the animals in the jungle gather at the Peace Rock to drink the water that remains, as part of the Water Truce, abiding by the "Law of the Land" to not devour one another. The peaceful gathering is disrupted when the fearsome Bengal tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) makes his presence felt. He detects Mowgli's scent amongst the crowd and threatens his life since man is not welcome in the jungle. He holds the scars on his face as proof of man's cruel and destructive nature and issues a warning that when the Water Truce ends and the Peace Rock disappears, he will come for the boy and that the wolves should decide how many of their own kind they would be willing to sacrifice to protect a man-cub. Thus a debate and argument arises amongst the members of the wolf pack as to whether or not they should keep Mowgli. But before a general consensus is reached, Mowgli voluntarily decides to leave the jungle for the sake and safety of his pack. Bagheera volunteers to guide him to the human civilization.
In exchange for saving Mowgli's life, Baloo demands that Mowgli fetch him honey which is atop a cliff, to which Mowgli unwillingly agrees. Together, they form a close bond and Mowgli decides to stay with Baloo until the winter season arrives.
Meanwhile, back in the jungle, Shere Khan visits the wolf pack looking for the "man-cub" and kills Akela by throwing him off the cliff when he is told that Mowgli has left the pack. He demands that the boy be handed over to him and, confident that Mowgli will return again, appoints himself the new leader of the pack.
When Bagheera returns to fetch Mowgli, he discovers that Mowgli has decided to live with Baloo. Although tension is raised between the three, they all agree to sleep on it until the following morning. During the night Mowgli hears a cry for help and discovers that a baby elephant is trapped in a deep pit. Using his tricks developed with Baloo, he fashions a rope to rescue the baby elephant. Although Bagheera and Baloo are initally horrified (as elephants are regarded with a religous awe and are forbidden to be interacted with) they are soon astonished when an unspoken bond seems to be forged between Mowgli and the elephants.
Nevertheless, Bagheera still maintains the man-cub must leave the jungle, particularly now word of Akela's murder has begin to spread. Following Bagheera's instructions, Baloo unwillingly confronts Mowgli and lies to him that he never considered him a friend, hoping that Mowgli can change his mind about staying with him. But Mowgli is suddenly abducted by a group of monkeys who take him to an ancient ruined temple and present him to King Louie (Christopher Walken), a Bornean orangutan-resembling Gigantopithecus who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly "red flower". Bagheera and Baloo arrive just in time to distract the monkeys and manage to hold them off while Mowgli flees into hiding. King Louie chases Mowgli through the temple, causing it to crumble on top of him, but not before he informs Mowgli of Akela's demise.
Furious of the fact that Bagheera and Baloo kept him in the dark about Akela’s death, Mowgli decides to return back to the jungle and confront Shere Khan to avenge the death of his leader and put an end to his tyranny. But first, Mowgli ventures into the village where the humans live and for the first time, he sees his own kind from afar and gazes at them in amazement. He steals one of the burning torches and heads back to the jungle but accidentally starts a fire. Bagheera and Baloo follow him in close pursuit.
Raksha then becomes the new Alpha and leads the wolf pack. Mowgli now accepts that he is not a wolf but a man and decides to do things the "human way". Mowgli is last seen sitting on a tree with Bagheera and Baloo, having at last found a true home.
Directed by Jon Favreau
Produced by Jon Favreau
Written by Justin Marks
Based on The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Neel Sethi as Mowgli
Ritesh Rajan as Mowgli's father
Bill Murray as Baloo
Ben Kingsley as Bagheera
Idris Elba as Shere Khan
Lupita Nyong'o as Raksha
Scarlett Johansson as Kaa
Giancarlo Esposito as Akela
Christopher Walken as King Louie
Garry Shandling as Ikki
Brighton Rose as Grey Brother
Jon Favreau as Pygmy Hog
Sam Raimi as Giant Squirrel
Russell Peters as Rocky the Rhino
Madeleine Favreau as Raquel the Rhino
Music by John Debney
Cinematography Bill Pope
Edited by Mark Livolsi
Production company Walt Disney Pictures Fairview Entertainment
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
April 4, 2016 (El Capitan Theatre)
April 8, 2016 (India)
April 15, 2016 (United States)
Running time 105 minutes
Country United States
Box office $28.9 million (till 12-April-2016)
The musical score for The Jungle Book was composed by frequent Favreau collaborator John Debney. Favreau decided not to make the film a musical, nevertheless, he and Debney incorporated several songs from the 1967 animated film. "The Bare Necessities", originally written by Terry Gilkyson, will be included and sung by Murray and Sethi. "Trust in Me" and "I Wan'na Be Like You", written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, will be performed by Johansson and Walken, respectively. Richard M. Sherman wrote new songs for the film, including new lyrics for Walken's version of "I Wan'na Be Like You". Some of the lyrics to "Trust in Me" were spoken by Kaa in the film's teaser trailer.
A soundtrack album is scheduled to be released on April 15, 2016 by Walt Disney Records.
In the Hindi version of the movie, composer Vishal Bhardwaj composed a song especially for the local release.
On January 13, 2015, the film's release date was postponed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures from October 9, 2015 to April 15, 2016. The film is scheduled to be released in the Dolby Vision format in Dolby Cinema in the United States. The Jungle Book held its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre on April 4, 2016. It was released in 15 countries, a week ahead of its U.S. debut on April 15 in countries like Argentina, Australia, Russia, Malaysia and most notably in India on April 8. The release date in India was strategic for the film as it coincided with the Hindu New Year and was a holiday in most parts of the country.
In the United States and Canada, pre-release tracking suggests the film will open around $60–70 million, with female and older male quadrants being the prime draw.
Internationally, it opened across 15 markets a week before its U.S. debut and faced competitions from newcomer The Huntsman: Winter's War and holdover Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which was entering its third weekend of play. The reason behind this was because Disney wanted to get some space before the studio's own Captain America: Civil War releases in early May as well as avialing school holidays and avoiding local competitors. It eventually grossed $31.7 million, debuting at first place in all markets and second overall at the international box office, behind Dawn of Justice which was playing across 67 markets.
In India, it scored the second biggest opening day for a Hollywood film, earning $1.51 million (behind Avengers: Age of Ultron) from around 1,500 screens and went on to score the second biggest Hollywood opening weekend of all time film with $8.4 million, behind only Furious 7 in terms of local as well as U.S. currency. It performed better than expected than its initial $5–6 million opening projection. Its opening weekend alone surpassed the entire lifetime total of Disney's two other live-adapations Cinderella and Maleficent. Elsewhere, it opened with $7.4 million in Russia, $2.8 million in Australia, $2.3 million in Argentina and in Malysia, it scored the biggest opening weekend for a live-action Disney film with $2.3 million. It will next open in key markets like China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Brazil and Mexico, as well as North America, next week. Korea will open on June 2 and Japan on August 11.
The Jungle Book received positive reviews from critics, with praise aimed at its visual effects, faithfulness to both the animated film and original Kipling works and the performances of the voice cast. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 100%, based on 25 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. On Metacritic the film has a score of 74 out of 100, based on 9 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Exceptionally beautiful to behold and bolstered by a stellar vocal cast, this umpteenth film rendition of Rudyard Kipling's tales of young Mowgli's adventures amongst the creatures of the Indian jungle proves entirely engaging, even if it's ultimately lacking in subtext and thematic heft." Andrew Barker of Variety felt that this version "can't rival the woolly looseness of Disney's 1967 animated classic, of course, but it succeeds on its own so well that such comparisons are barely necessary." Robbie Collin of The Telegraph gave the film four stars out of five and deemed it "a sincere and full-hearted adaptation that returns to Kipling for fresh inspiration." Alonso Duralde of The Wrap also gave a warm reception, saying, "This 'Book' might lack the post-vaudeville razzamatazz of its predecessor, but director Jon Favreau and a team of effects wizards plunge us into one of the big screen's most engrossing artificial worlds since Avatar." Pete Hammond of Deadline.com wrote that the film had laughs, excitement, an exceptional voice cast and, most important, lots of heart, calling it a cinematic achievement like no other. He particularly praised Murray's performance and the visual effects deeming it "simply astonishing".
The film also garnered positive reception from Indian contemporary critics and publications such as The Times of India, The Hindu, India Today, The Indian Express, and The Economic Times.
Its visual effects and 3D photography received acclaim, with comparisons being made to the likes of Avatar, Gravity, and Life of Pi. Mike Ryan of Uproxx stated that "The Jungle Book is one of those handful of movies that belongs in 3D". Sarah Ward of Screen International wrote that the level of detail on display in the film "is is likely to evoke the same jaw-dropping reaction as James Cameron's box office topper." Idris Elba's performance in particular was also praised. Cath Clarke of Time Out compared his character of Shere Khan to Scar from The Lion King, calling him "baddie of the year".