After six years of production it seems the gritty live-action Jungle Book movie Mowgli won’t make it to the big screen after all. Netflix has reportedly snatched up the rights to the film, which was formerly owned by Warner Bros.
Andy Serkis’s live adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling classic has lingered in production since 2012, but it seems 2018 will finally see the results of the motion-capture legend’s work. But in a surprise move, the move slated to come to theaters in October 19, 2018 will instead debut directly on the streaming platform. Part of the delay was in the movie getting beat to theaters by The Jungle Book, which was released in 2016.
“We found ourselves in this race with Disney and there was a [time] when we were neck and neck, in who would come first,” Serkis said in an interview with Deadline. “Both studios wanted to be first.”
Serkis told Deadline that Mowgli lost a race with Disney’s The Jungle Book to get to theaters in 2016, and with a move to Netflix “we avoid comparisons to the other movie and it’s a relief not to have the pressure.”
Netflix isn’t exactly a stranger to buying properties from major studios for streaming purposes, though the last time it did so for a movie this notable it was in secret. The streaming giant quietly picked up The Cloverfield Paradox in 2017, debuting it on the platform with a commercial that ran during the Super Bowl in February.
That film didn’t do as well as the company had hoped, but there’s a considerable amount of hype around Mowgli, which has been in development since 2012 but is finally ready for the eyes of the viewing public later this year. The film’s trailer, which debuted in May, bills it as the “darkest” telling of the Jungle Book story yet.