Director Jon Favreau Talks “The Jungle Book” Live Action Film

Hi everyone!

We sent a correspondent to the El Capitan in Hollywood a few weeks back to learn more about the upcoming live action film, The Jungle Book. The film is a combination of the Rudyard Kipling classic story and the animated movie. Director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) took a nearly full-on CGI approach to the current version but it is still considered a live action film. Newcomer Nell Sethi takes on the role of Mowgli, chosen from over 2000 kids as the face of the film. While you may notice some aspects of other actors within their counterparts in The Jungle Book (like Bill Murray’s eyebrows as Baloo), it is Sethi who really had to shoulder much of the film.

Photo courtesy of Disney

One of the things Favreau was most excited about is new Dolby 3D Laser Projection. The El Capitan will be one of a handful of theaters showing The Jungle Book with this new 4k system, which our correspondent had a chance to see with stunning clips of the film.

The Jungle Book is one in a string of Disney live-action films that include Maleficent and Cinderella (also down the pike are Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, Winnie the Pooh and many others). For 2016, other live action films include Pete’s Dragon and Alice Through the Looking Glass. The Jungle Book is not a musical, though we have seen Baloo singing “Bare Necessities” in the trailer and songwriter Richard Sherman was consulted.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Favreau wanted the film to feel like it was created internally, so only visual effects house MPC was brought in, along with Weta. A set was built for each shot – like 12 feet of jungle was built if Mowgli was walking 12 feet. Then it would be on to another set for another scene. Everything around Mowgli is digital effects, shot in full and then another set was built for the next scene and so on. If you’ve seen the trailers for The Jungle Book, the landscape looks photorealistic – and everything blends so well together. Like…Mowgli would be walking on grass on a set, and everything else would be digitally filled in around the scene. It was hard to see the difference in what was real and what was CGI.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Favreau also wanted to change King Louie from an orangatan, since the species isn’t indigenous to jungles in India. However, there was a fossil found from a Gigantopithecus many years ago – the largest primate possibly ever to live. It was found in China and Southeast Asia, and was as tall as 10 feet and weighed over 1000 pounds (thought of as a “King Kong” type creature). So King Louie in the film is much bigger than what you’d expect after seeing the animated version. He is voiced by Christopher Walken, and Favreau said of creating the character, “For King Louie, we really wanted him to have blue eyes and the look and the way (Christopher Walken’s) face is rigged”.

In addition to Sethi, Walken and Murray, the film stars Giancarlo Esposito as Akela, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa and Idris Elba as Shere Khan.