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|The Jungle Book|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jon Favreau|
|Screenplay by||Justin Marks|
|Edited by||Mark Livolsi|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios
|Box office||$966.6 million|
The Jungle Book is a 2016 American fantasy adventure film directed and produced by Jon Favreau, produced by Walt Disney Pictures, and written by Justin Marks. Based on Rudyard Kipling's eponymous collective works and inspired by Walt Disney's 1967 animated film of the same name, The Jungle Book is a live-action/CGI film that 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 introduces Neel Sethi as Mowgli and also features the voices of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, and Christopher Walken.
Favreau, Marks, and producer Brigham Taylor developed the film's story as a balance between Disney's animated adaptation and Kipling's original works, borrowing elements from both into the film. Principal photography commenced in 2014, with filming taking place entirely in Los Angeles. The film required extensive use of computer-generated imagery to portray the animals and settings.
The Jungle Book was released in North America in Disney Digital 3-D, RealD 3D, IMAX 3D, D-Box, and premium large formats, on April 15, 2016. It became a critical and commercial success, grossing over $966 million, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2016 and the 38th-highest-grossing film of all time, praised for its visual effects, musical score, direction, faithfulness to the original animated film, and vocal performances, particularly those of Murray, Kingsley, and Elba. The film won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects at the 89th Academy Awards.
Mowgli is a "man cub" raised by the wolf Raksha and her pack, led by Akela, in an Indian jungle ever since he was brought to them as a baby by the black panther Bagheera. Bagheera trains Mowgli to learn the ways of the wolves, but the boy faces certain challenges and falls behind his wolf siblings, while Akela disapproves of him using human tricks like building tools instead of learning the ways of the pack.
One day, during the dry season, the jungle animals gather to drink the water that remains as part of a truce during a drought that enables the jungle's wildlife to drink without fear of being eaten by their predators. The truce is disrupted when a scarred tiger named Shere Khan arrives, detecting Mowgli's scent in the large crowd. Resentful against man for scarring him, he issues a warning that he will kill Mowgli at the end of the drought. After the drought ends, the wolves debate whether they should keep Mowgli or not. Mowgli decides to leave the jungle for the safety of his pack. Bagheera agrees with the decision and volunteers to guide him to the nearby man village.
En route, Shere Khan ambushes them and injures Bagheera, but Mowgli manages to escape. Later, Mowgli meets an enormous python named Kaa who hypnotizes him. While under her influence, Mowgli sees a vision of his father being mauled while protecting him from Shere Khan. The vision also warns of the destructive power of the "red flower" (fire). Kaa attempts to devour Mowgli, but she is attacked by a large brown sloth bear named Baloo, rescuing an unconscious Mowgli. Baloo and Mowgli bond while retrieving some difficult-to-access honey for Baloo, and the boy agrees to stay with Baloo until the winter season arrives. Upon learning that Mowgli has left the jungle, Shere Khan kills Akela and threatens the pack to lure Mowgli out.
Bagheera eventually finds Mowgli and Baloo and is angered that Mowgli has not joined the humans as agreed, but Baloo calms him down and persuades both of them to sleep on it. During the night, Mowgli finds a herd of Indian elephants gathered around a ditch and uses his vines to save a baby elephant from the ditch. Although Baloo and Bagheera are both impressed, Baloo realizes that he cannot guarantee Mowgli's safety after learning that he is being hunted by Shere Khan. Baloo agrees to push Mowgli away to get him to continue onward to the man village.
Mowgli is kidnapped by the "Bandar-log" (monkeys) who present him to their leader, a giant ape named King Louie. Assuming that all humans can make fire, King Louie offers Mowgli protection from Shere Khan in exchange for it. Baloo distracts King Louie while Bagheera tries to sneak him out, but their plan is discovered. As King Louie chases Mowgli through his temple, he informs Mowgli of Akela's death. King Louie's rampage eventually causes his temple to collapse on top of him. Furious that Baloo and Bagheera never told him about Akela's death, Mowgli goes to confront Shere Khan alone.
Mowgli steals a lit torch at the village to use as a weapon and heads back to the jungle, accidentally starting a wildfire in the process. He confronts Shere Khan, who argues that Mowgli has made himself the enemy of the jungle by causing the wildfire. Mowgli throws the torch into the water, giving Shere Khan the advantage. Baloo, Bagheera, and the wolf pack intervene and hold Shere Khan off, giving Mowgli enough time to set a trap. He lures Shere Khan up a dead tree and onto a branch, which breaks under the tiger's weight and Shere Khan falls into the fire to his death. Mowgli then directs the elephants to divert the river and put out the fire.
In the aftermath, Raksha becomes the new leader of the wolf pack. Mowgli decides to utilize his equipment and tricks for his own use, having found his true home and calling with his wolf family, Baloo, and Bagheera.
On July 9, 2013, Walt Disney Pictures announced that a live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's short story collection The Jungle Book was in development, with Justin Marks set to write the script. The film would be Disney's second live-action adaptation of Kipling's works, following the 1994 film and the 1998 direct-to-video film Mowgli's Story; and the studio's fourth overall after the 1967 animated film. Jon Favreau was confirmed as director on November 5, 2013. Favreau as a child used to watch Disney's 1967 animated film. He felt the need to strike a balance between the two films by retaining the buoyant spirit of the 1967 film, including some of its memorable songs, while crafting a film with more realism and peril. He also stressed the importance of nature and realized how things have shifted during Kipling's time and now, "In Kipling's time, nature was something to be overcome. Now nature is something to be protected." He was encouraged by Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn to take advantage of the film's setting and story as an opportunity to use the latest advancements in photorealistic rendering, computer-generated imagery, and motion capture technologies. The story of the film is not independently taken from Kipling's works, but also borrows cinematic inspirations from other films, including the child-mentor relationship in Shane (1953), the establishment of rules in a dangerous world from Goodfellas (1990) and the use of a shadowy jungle figure in Apocalypse Now (1979).
The cast was announced between March and August 2014, with Idris Elba being announced to voice Shere Khan during early stages and Bill Murray eventually confirmed as the voice of Baloo in August 2014. Between then, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, and Christopher Walken were confirmed to play Kaa, Bagheera, and King Louie. Favreau decided to cast Johansson to play Kaa, originally a male character, as he felt the original film was "a little too male-oriented." Favreau and Marks noticed the lack of female characters in the 1967 film version and wanted to address that by featuring Raksha's character more prominently, as in Kipling's tales. Lupita Nyong'o was cast as Raksha as Favreau believed her voice imbued the emotion required for the role, "Lupita has tremendous depth of emotion in her performance. There's an emotional underpinning she brings, and a strength, and we wanted that for this surrogate mother. Much of that comes from her voice." Favreau also decided to change King Louie from an orangutan to a gigantopithecus due to the fact that orangutans are not native to India, where the story takes place. His character was given a slight alteration from the 1967 film and was partly inspired by Marlon Brando's character Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, as well as incorporating Walken's own physical mannerisms. In regards to Louie's changes, Favreau stated, "We created this looming figure that was trying to extract the secret of fire from Mowgli. And also this gave Mowgli the idea that if he had fire, he could have power over Shere Khan, whether it was good or bad. So there was a Lord of the Rings aspect to that; the fire was almost like the ring in that was going to give someone ultimate power, but corrupt them as well as create destruction." The film is dedicated to Garry Shandling, who voiced a porcupine in the film and died of a heart attack before the film's release.
The search for casting Mowgli was extensive, with thousands of children auditioning from the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada. Eventually, newcomer Neel Sethi was confirmed for the role, with casting director Rebecca Williams describing him as embodying "the heart, humor, and daring of the character. He's warm and accessible, yet also has an intelligence well beyond his years and impressed us all with his ability to hold his own in any situation." Sethi underwent parkour training in preparation for the role. Pixar Animation Studios assisted in the development of the story, as well as providing suggestions for the film's end credits sequence.
Principal photography took place entirely on sound stages at L.A. Center Studios in downtown Los Angeles. The animal characters were created entirely in computer animation, with the assistance of footage of real animal movement, the actors recording their lines, and performance capture for reference. The production team underwent a thorough process to realistically convey the animals' speaking, while still making them perceptually believable to the audience. Favreau researched earlier films featuring anthropomorphic animals—including Walt Disney's animated features, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi, as well as modern films such as Babe—and adopted certain techniques from those films into The Jungle Book. Nearly 70 separate species of animals native to India are featured in the film, with several species being portrayed as "150% larger" than their actual counterparts.
Jim Henson's Creature Shop was brought in to provide animal puppet figures for Sethi to act against, although none appear in the finished film. The animal puppets were performed by Artie Esposito, Sean Johnson, Allan Trautman, and April Warren. Favreau utilized motion capture with certain actors, expressing a desire to avoid overusing the technology in order to prevent evoking an uncanny valley effect.
Moving Picture Company (MPC) and Weta Digital created the film's visual effects. MPC developed new software for animating muscular structure in the animals. Around 1,000 remote jungle locations in India were photographed and used as reference in post-production. Weta was responsible for animating the King Louie sequence, with visual effects supervisor Keith Miller adding that, "It was important for Jon to see Christopher Walken in the creature. So we took some of the distinctive Walken facial features—iconic lines, wrinkles and folds—and integrated them into the animated character." Favreau expressed desire in wanting the film's 3D shots to imbue the abilities of the multiplane camera system utilized in Disney's earlier animated films. At Favreau's behest, the idea was extended into the film's version of the Walt Disney Pictures opening production logo, which was recreated as "a hand-painted, cel-animated multi-plane logo" in homage to the animated films of that era, also incorporating the word "Presents" in the same style as the 1967 film's opening credits. The film's ending also features the original physical book that opened the 1967 film.
Director Jon Favreau and composer John Debney sought to recreate the Fantasound experience Walt Disney, himself, had in mind. When mixing the soundtrack in Dolby Atmos, as Favreau said, "we isolated instruments when we could. And in the sound mix, we created a Fantasound mix. If you see the film in Atmos, you will feel that there are instruments that move around the theater." A mention for Fantasound appears in the film's closing credits.
The musical score for The Jungle Book was composed and conducted by frequent Favreau collaborator John Debney, mostly drawing from George Bruns' original music. Though Favreau decided not to make the film a musical, nevertheless, he and Debney incorporated several songs from the 1967 animated film. "The Bare Necessities," written by Terry Gilkyson, is performed by Murray and Sethi, and a cover version by Dr. John is featured in the end credits. "I Wan'na Be Like You" and "Trust in Me"—written by the Sherman Brothers—are performed by Walken and Johansson, respectively; Richard M. Sherman wrote revised lyrics for Walken's version of "I Wan'na Be Like You." Johansson's rendition of "Trust in Me" was produced by Mark Ronson and appears in the end credits only.
|The Jungle Book (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|Film score by John Debney|
|Released||April 15, 2016|
|Studio||Sony Pictures Studios (score)
Esplanade Studios, New Orleans
Chalice Recording Studios
Music Shed Studios, New Orleans
|Genre||Orchestral, swing jazz|
|John Debney chronology|
|1.||"The Bare Necessities"||Terry Gilkyson||Dr. John and The Nite Trippers||3:36|
|2.||"Trust in Me"||Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman||Scarlett Johansson||2:55|
|3.||"Main Titles[Note 1] / Jungle Run"||John Debney & George Bruns||2:27|
|4.||"Wolves / Law of the Jungle"||John Debney||2:16|
|5.||"Water Truce"||John Debney||3:40|
|6.||"Rains Return"||John Debney||1:46|
|7.||"Mowgli's Leaving / Elephant Theme"||John Debney||3:28|
|8.||"Shere Khan Attacks / Stampede"||John Debney||2:06|
|9.||"Kaa / Baloo to the Rescue"||5:21|
|12.||"Mowgli and the Pit"||3:26|
|13.||"Monkeys Kidnap Mowgli"||1:52|
|14.||"Arriving at King Louie's Temple"||4:35|
|15.||"Cold Lair Chase"||4:03|
|17.||"To the River"||3:05|
|18.||"Shere Khan's War Theme"||2:37|
|19.||"Shere Khan and the Fire"||4:52|
|21.||"Mowgli Wins the Race"||0:41|
|22.||"Jungle Book Closes"||2:16|
|23.||"I Wan'na Be Like You"||Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman||Christopher Walken||3:02|
|24.||"The Bare Necessities"||Terry Gilkyson||Bill Murray, Kermit Ruffins||3:01|
The film was originally scheduled for October 9, 2015, but the film's release date was later postponed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures to April 15, 2016. The film was released in the Dolby Vision format in Dolby Cinema in the United States, and is the first film to be released in Dolby Vision 3D (in a few select theaters in New York City and Chicago). 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 Indian New Year and was a holiday in most parts of the country. The film had a special Hindi version with famous actors giving their voices to the main characters, including Irrfan Khan as Baloo, Om Puri as Bagheera, Priyanka Chopra as Ka, Nana Patekar as Sher Khan and Shefali Shah as Raksha, for its Indian audiences as the book and the Disney series based on it had been immensely popular in India in 1990s. Disney India also commissioned a contemporary recording of "Jungle Jungle Baat Chali Hai" (originally used for the popular Indian version of Japanese anime series Jungle Book Shōnen Mowgli), overseen by the original Hindi song's composers Vishal Bhardwaj and Gulzar, and released it as part of the film's promotional campaign in India.
The film was released digitally on August 23, 2016, and on DVD and Blu-ray on August 30 (August 22 in the UK). A 3D Blu-ray was said to be coming by the end of the year. The film topped the NPD VideoScan overall disc sales chart for two consecutive weeks.
The film became a huge financial success and a sleeper hit. It briefly held the record for the biggest remake of all time until the studio's own Beauty and the Beast surpassed it the following year. It grossed $364 million in the United States and Canada and $602.5 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $966.6 million, against a budget of $175 million. Worldwide, the film was released across 28,000 RealD 3D screens and had an IMAX worldwide opening of $20.4 million from 901 IMAX screens, a new record for a PG film. It grossed a total of $39 million in IMAX screens worldwide. On May 13, it became the second film of 2016 (after the studio's own Zootopia) to pass the $800 million mark. On June 10, it became the third film of 2016 after Zootopia and Captain America: Civil War to pass the $900 million mark. Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $258 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues for the film, making it the sixth-most profitable release of 2016.
Projections for its opening weekend in the United States and Canada were continuously revised upwards, starting from $60 million to as high as $88 million, with female and older male quadrants being the prime draw. The Jungle Book was shown across 4,028 theaters of which 3,100 theaters (75%) were in 3D, including 376 IMAX screens, 463 premium large format screens, and 145 D-Box locations. It opened Friday, April 15, 2016, on around 9,500 screens across 4,028 theaters, and earned $32.4 million, the fourth-biggest April Friday. This includes $4.2 million from Thursday previews, the biggest preview number for a Disney live-adaptation film (tied with Maleficent), an almost unheard-of for a PG title which rarely attracts many ticketbuyers later in the night. In total, it earned $103.3 million in its opening weekend, exceeding expectations by 40% and recorded the biggest PG-rated April opening (breaking Hop's record), the second-biggest Disney live-action adaptation opening (behind Alice in Wonderland), and the second-biggest April opening (behind Furious 7). It also performed exceptionally well in both 3D and IMAX formats, where they both generated an income of $44 million and $10.4 million of the film's opening-weekend gross, respectively, the later broke the record for the biggest April Disney release IMAX opening. Notably, it also became the only second PG-rated release to ever open above $100 million (following Alice in Wonderland) and the third film of 2016 overall to open above $100 million (following Deadpool and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). It earned $130.7 million in its first full week, the second-biggest for a Disney live-action adaptation, behind only Alice in Wonderland's $146.6 million seven-day gross.
Buoyed by excellent word of mouth and benefiting from spring break, it fell only by 40% in its second weekend earning $61.5 million, still maintaining the top position and far surpassing newcomer The Huntsman: Winter's War. That puts The Jungle Book in the top fifteen second weekends of all time and in terms of films that opened above $100 million, it scored the fourth-smallest drop behind Shrek 2 (−33%), Spider-Man (−39%), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (−39%). Of those numbers, $5.6 million came from IMAX shows for a two weekend cumulative total of $18.4 million which represents about 10% of its entire North American box office gross. It crossed $200 million on its twelfth day of release and managed to hold the top spot for the third consecutive weekend with $43.7 million from 4,041 theaters (an addition of 13 more theaters), a fall of only 29%, outgrossing the next six pictures combined (including the openings of three newcomers) and recorded the sixth-biggest third weekend of all time. Moreover, the 29% drop is the smallest third-weekend drop (from its second weekend) for a $100 million opener ever. Disney added an additional 103 theaters for the film's fourth weekend of release which propelled its theater count to 4,144 theaters, but nevertheless, it was overtaken by Disney's own Captain America: Civil War after experiencing a 50% decline. It passed $300 million on its thirtieth day of release, on May 14, as it continued to witness marginal declines in the wake of several new releases weekend after weekend. It made 3.53 times its opening weekend numbers, which is one of the biggest of all time for a film opening above $100 million. It became one of the few surprise hits and one of the highest-grossing films of the year, alongside Finding Dory, The Secret Life of Pets, and Zootopia, centered around talking animals to dominate the year-end chart.
The film was released in approximately 70 countries. Outside the US and Canada, it opened across 15 markets and 69 IMAX screens a week ahead of its US debut, and faced notable competition from newcomer The Huntsman: Winter's War and holdover Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the latter of which was entering its third weekend. The reason behind the divided release pattern was because Disney wanted to get some space before Captain America: Civil War releases in early May, as well as availing 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 its second weekend, it expanded to an additional 49 countries (88% of its total marketplace) and grossed $138.6 million from 64 countries, easily topping the international box office, a bulk of it came from China. Approximately 63% or $85 million of that came from 3D screenings, with the largest 3D opening haul represented by China (98%), Germany (83%), Brazil (73%), Russia (60%), Mexico (47%), and the UK (39%). $10 million alone came from 525 IMAX screens, a record for a PG and April release. It further continued to hold the top spot in its third weekend after adding another $98.9 million from 53 territories, falling only by a marginal 32%. IMAX generated another $6.1 million from 484 IMAX theaters for a three-weekend total of $20.6 million. After three straight No. 1 runs, it was finally dethroned by the studio's Captain America: Civil War in its fourth weekend.
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, with $8.4 million from 1,600 screens, behind only Furious 7 in terms of local as well as U.S. currency, performing better than expected and its initial $5–6 million opening projection. Its opening weekend in India alone surpassed the entire lifetime total of Disney's other live-fantasy adaptations—Cinderella, Maleficent, Oz the Great and Powerful, and Alice in Wonderland—in the country. It then went on to score the biggest opening and single week for a Hollywood film with $15.1 million. In its second weekend, it dropped just by a mere 40% to $4.97 million. In just ten days, it became the fourth-highest-grossing Hollywood film there with $21.2 million. On Wednesday, April 19—its twelfth day of release—it surpassed Furious 7 to become the highest-grossing Hollywood/foreign release of all time there. By the end of its theatrical run, the film made an estimated $38.8 million with half of its revenue—58%—coming from local dubbed versions, compared to Avengers: Age of Ultron, which saw 45% of its revenue from dubbed versions.
In China, where the film was locally known as Fantasy Forest, expectations were high, with projections going as high $154–200 million or more. Ultimately, it was unable to hit these marks. Before the release of the film in the state, Disney had a very successful run at the box office with Zootopia the previous month, in which anthropomorphic animals were the central figure. Forbes noted that The Jungle Book was precisely the sort of film that Chinese audiences love with its 3D visuals, heartwarming story, and talking animal cast. It earned around $12 million on its opening day, including $300,000 worth of previews from 65,000 screenings. Buoyed by good word of mouth and positive reception (albeit mostly from audiences with polarized reception from Chinese critics), it rose 72% on its second day to $20 million. Through its opening weekend it grossed $48.5 million, including $5.1 million from 279 IMAX screens, a new record for April release. Its opening marked the biggest Walt Disney Pictures film opening ever, the second-biggest for a family film (behind Kung Fu Panda 3), the second-biggest April debut (behind Furious 7), and the fourth-biggest Disney opening (behind Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man 3, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens). It topped the daily box office through the whole opening week and went on to remain at the top of the box office for a second weekend, after dropping by a mere 20% to $29.8 million, despite facing some competitions. It ended its run there with a total of $150.1 million after thirty days of playing in theaters, adding $1.2 million on its last day. Albeit falling just below expectations, it nevertheless emerged as a huge financial success and becoming the fourth-biggest Disney release there.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, it had an opening weekend total of £9.9 million ($14.1 million) from 594 theaters and in France with $8.1 million. Elsewhere, the highest openings were recorded in Russia and the CIS ($7.4 million), Germany ($5.1 million), Spain ($3.9 million), Australia ($2.8 million), Argentina ($2.3 million), and in Malaysia, where it scored the biggest opening weekend for a live-action Disney film with $2.3 million. In the UK, it became the first film of 2016 to earn over £5 million in three straight weekends and the first film since Jurassic World, Spectre, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (all 2015 films) to achieve such an accomplishment, and the first film of 2016 to earn above £40 million ($58 million). In South Korea, it faced competition with Warcraft, but ended up debuting atop the charts with $6.2 million. It has so far grossed a total of $18 million there.
It opened in Japan on August 11, alongside the superhero film X-Men: Apocalypse and delivered a four-day opening of $6.2 million from 676 screens ($3 million in two days), debuting at second place behind The Secret Life of Pets. Although the opening figure was considered mediocre, Deadline Hollywood noted that Japan is a market that can see big multiples. It fell just 30% in its second weekend earning $2.1 million for an eleven-day total of $13.7 million.
In total earnings, its biggest markets outside of the US and Canada were China ($150.1 million), the United Kingdom ($66.2 million) and India ($38.8 million). It was the highest-grossing film of 2016 in Europe with a total of $209 million, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and in India (although it was later surpassed by Sultan, in terms of Hollywood/imported films, it is still the biggest).
The film received praise for its visual effects, vocal performances, direction, musical score, and its faithfulness to the animated film. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 95% based on 296 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "As lovely to behold as it is engrossing to watch, The Jungle Book is the rare remake that actually improves upon its predecessors—all while setting a new standard for CGI." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 77 out of 100, based on 49 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an overall positive score of 92%. Ninety-seven percent of the audience gave the film an A or a B, and it got A's from both the under- and over-25 crowd and A+ among those under 18 years of age and also for the over-50 audience.
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 says "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." Peter Bradshaw, writing for The Guardian, gave the film four out of five stars and felt that the film had a touch of Apocalypto in it, finding the plot elements to be similar to those in The Lion King. He wrote that the film was "spectacular, exciting, funny and fun" and that it "handsomely revives the spirit of Disney's original film." Pete Hammond of Deadline Hollywood wrote that the film had laughs, excitement, an exceptional voice cast and, most importantly, a lot of heart, calling it a cinematic achievement like no other. He particularly praised Murray's performance and the visual effects, deeming it "simply astonishing." Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly graded the film an "A–," calling it one of the biggest surprises of 2016. He, however, felt the two songs were rather unnecessary and distracting, and believed the film to be a little too frightening for children.
Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film three-and-a-half stars, pointing out the CGI as the apex achievement of the film. He labelled it "a beautifully rendered, visually arresting take on Rudyard Kipling's oft-filmed tales" but found the musical numbers to be trivial, saying that without the musical numbers, the film might have been a more exhilarating streamlined adventure. Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan remarked that "The Jungle Book is the kind of family film calculated to make even those without families wish they had one to take along." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, labeling it scary and thrilling, yet unique and unforgettable, and adding that it "fills us with something rare in movies today—a sense of wonder." The Village Voice's Bilge Ebiri hailed the film as fast and light and that it "manages to be just scary enough to make us feel the danger of solitude in the middle of a massive jungle, but never indulgent or gratuitous." The New York Times' Manohla Dargis was less enthusiastic. Cath Clarke of Time Out compared Elba's character of Shere Khan to Scar from The Lion King, calling him "baddie of the year." Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com also had high praise for Elba's portrayal of Shere Khan stating: "His loping menace is envisioned so powerfully that he'd be scary no matter what, but the character becomes a great villain through imaginative empathy. We understand and appreciate his point-of-view, even though carrying it out would mean the death of Mowgli."
The film's visual effects and 3D photography were compared to those of Avatar, Gravity, Hugo, and Life of Pi. Sarah Ward of Screen International wrote that the level of detail on display in the film "is likely to evoke the same jaw-dropping reaction as James Cameron's box office topper." Entertainment Weekly called it "one of the few 3D movies that actually benefits from being in 3D." The film also had a 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.
The film also had its share of negative reviews with most reviewers criticizing the inconsistent tone of the film and the director's indecision to stick to one vision. Sam C. Mac of Slant Magazine wrote, "Jon Favreau draws heavily on his film's animated predecessor for plot, characterizations, songs, and set pieces, but doesn't know how to fit these familiar elements into his own coherent vision". Josh Spiegel of Movie Mezzanine also echoed these feelings, saying that the film "stumbles because the people involved aren't willing to fully commit to either making a near-shot-for-shot remake or going in a completely different direction". Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald felt that the movie was soulless, writing that "The better these talking beasts look, the more the film resembles a gorgeous screen saver. You admire The Jungle Book, but you can't lose yourself in it".
Following the film's early financial and critical success, the studio has begun working on a sequel. Jon Favreau is reported to return as director and Neel Sethi is reported to reprise his role as Mowgli, while screenwriter Justin Marks is also in negotiations to return. It was announced on April 25, 2016 that Favreau and Marks will return to direct and write, and the sequel could potentially have a release sometime in 2019 and will be shot back-to-back with a remake of The Lion King. However, it was reported in March 2017 that the sequel was put on hold in order for Favreau to instead focus mainly on The Lion King.
Jungle Book director Favreau has temporarily put down a sequel for that film to instead focus on a live-action musical version of The Lion King, one that will take the Jungle Book‘s photo-realistic technology further, and will fully exploit the Elton John songs from the original
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