Remember back in July 2014, when it was announced that Christopher Walken was going to play King Louie the orangutan, in Disney’s live-action reboot of the live-action remake of the animated re-imagining of Disney’s The Jungle Book? Remember how excited you were, to learn that Walken would be joining Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Ben Kingsley, and Idris Elba in a Jungle Book movie directed by Jon Favreau? And do you remember finding out that Warner Bros. was making their own Jungle Book movie at the exact same time with Andy Serkis directing/playing every animal and thinking “c’mon Andy! How about let’s let some other actors play CG animals? Don’t be greedy. Share your motion-capture ping-pong balls with the rest of the class!”? Do you remember all that? Well, guess what? Andy Serkis has heard your pleading and has decided to share the screen with another actor, his CG co-star in The Hobbit, Benedict Cumberbatch (who is, I guess, the only actor Serkis will EVER let play CG beasts aside from himself). Cumberbatch has been tapped to play the tiger Shere Khan in Jungle Book: Origins.
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan, the man-eating tiger who is the villain of the classic tale of a boy named Mowgli who is raised by jungle animals.
Andy Serkis, the motion capture king after pioneering motion capture with such roles as Gollum and Caesar, is making his directorial debut with the movie.
I am, of course, just kidding around when I suggest that Andy Serkis has a serious problem with letting other actors play motion-capture animals. But it gives me great pleasure to imagine him as a ringleader of some sort of CG animal crime syndicate. I like to imagine Warner Bros executives thinking of ways to beat the upcoming Disney version of The Jungle Book, and they come crawling to Andy Serkis’s CG crime lair on their hands and knees begging for his participation in their own re-imagining of The Jungle Book. The executives reach a large, seemingly abandoned warehouse with boarded up windows and walls littered with graffiti. They use their collective strength to pry the plywood from in front of rusted-out double doors and let themselves in.
The room is nearly pitch-black when they enter. Light from a street lamp outside only partially illuminates the warehouse floor, as it beams from the tiny slits in the wood boards covering the windows. The floor is covered in motion-capture ping-pong balls, and each step is met with a loud crunching sound as they make their way forward in the darkness. Suddenly, a spider monkey swings above them suspended from some assortment of cables. It’s movements seem natural and authentic, but there is something subtly human in it’s motions. The executives looks up at the spider monkey, confused and scared.
“Hey little guy,” says one executive. “We’re looking for Andy.” The monkey is silent.
“Let’s just get out of here, this place gives me the willies,” cries another cowardly executive. But the executives do not budge.
“I am Kala. I will lead you to Andy. Right this way,” the spider monkey says as he swings towards his master and creator. The executives follow Kala while muttering amongst themselves about the brilliance of Kala’s performance. The further the executives venture into the warehouse, the blacker the pathway becomes until they are all completely engulfed in the darkness. “Kala! Where are you taking us? Where is Andy?”
With a loud *snap* the warehouse becomes illuminated by bright phosphorescent lights. Andy Serkis appears before them, covered head-to-toe in a black and grey spandex/lycra suit, and sitting in the lap of a taxidermy’d silverback gorilla that he had fashioned into a chair. He is surrounded by an army of CGI mammals. Tigers, bears, orangutans, chimpanzees, elephants – Andy’s very own computer-generated animal kingdom. Andy holds a banana in his right hand and beckons the executives forward with his left – his subtle but masterful gesticulations assuring the executives of his greatness.
“Oh, hey, Andy. Um… Disney is rebooting The Jungle Book and we at Warner Brothers wanted to make our own Jungle Book movie to compete with theirs. So, we we’re hoping you could utilize your… um… services.” Andy is silent for a lingering moment, peels the banana and begins to speak. “So you want to use my animals?” he says, while holding the peeled banana to his spandex and ping-ping laden head. “Yes” says the executive. Andy shoves the entire banana down his throat without chewing or breaking eye-contact, and swallows it whole. “If you want to see the animals,” Andy says, “then first you must purchase a ticket to the Serkis.”
All of animals begin yelping, laughing, and screaming maniacally.
[TO BE CONTINUED…]