Mowgli Set to Bypass Cinemas and Head Directly to Netflix in 2019

Netflix recently acquired the worldwide rights to Mowgli in what is rumored to be its biggest acquisition of a finished film to date. The CGI live-action film based on Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ is directed by Andy Serkis and was slated for a theatrical release on October 19th, but will now be released globally on Netflix in 2019.

Mowgli is said to be a darker take on Rudyard Kipling’s novel, especially compared to the recent Disney version that was released in 2016. Both Mowgli and Disney’s The Jungle Book were neck and neck at one point with the former scheduled to be released in 2016 as well. However Serkis wanted more time to perfect the vision that he had for his movie in post-production, and that led to the film being delayed to its October 2018 release date.

According to Serkis, Mowgli is closer to the tone of Kipling’s novel and focuses on Mowgli’s role as an outcast and an outsider that neither belongs in the jungle where he was raised by wolves, nor in the world of men. Unlike the other Jungle Book films to date, it is darker, more intense, and is intended for mature audiences.

The film boasts a star-studded cast with Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris and Andy Serkis himself all voicing CGI motion-captured characters. The live action cast includes Matthew Rhys, Freida Pinto, and Rohan Chand in the role of Mowgli.

While details are sparse regarding Mowgli’s release on Netflix, it is said to have a ‘theatrical component’ built in so that viewers will be able to see the 3D version. The exact form that component will take is unknown, but it will be designed to present the lush 3D version of Serkis’ vision to viewers.

Due to its delayed release, had Mowgli ended up with a conventional theatrical release it would have invariably drawn comparisons to Disney’s version that grossed $966 million globally. Competing against that kind of hit would be difficult under the best of circumstances, regardless of how good Mowgli actually is.

By selling the rights to Mowgli to Netflix, Warner Bros. seems to be aiming to mitigate its risk. At the same time, Netflix will get a first-rate, big budget, studio-caliber film made by Serkis, who has previously made a name for himself due to his breathtaking motion capture performances as Gollum in Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and the recent Planet of the Apes movies.

Although the deal that Netflix inked for Mowgli is said to be its biggest at this point, the streaming giant is no stranger to buying movie rights from studios. In the past, it bought and released The Cloverfield Paradox from Paramount Pictures, and more recently acquired international rights to New Line’s Shaft reboot.

As far as Serkis is concerned, he is excited about Netflix for Mowgli. In his own words, “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.”

When Netflix does eventually release Mowgli, its subscribers will be able to watch it on the platform by streaming it. There is no word yet as to whether it will be available for download, and it may be necessary to record Netflix using a screen recorder such as Movavi Screen Recorder to do so.

For now, Serkis and Netflix are working on integrating the films ‘theatrical component’, and it is likely that it will get a release date later in the year once that is done.