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Bill Murray to Voice Baloo the Bear in ‘The Jungle Book’

Bill Murray has joined the cast of Disney’s “The Jungle Book” as the voice of Baloo the Bear.

Previously announced cast include Christopher Walken as King Louie, Giancarlo Esposito as Akela, Ben Kingsley and Lupita Nyong’o as Bagheera and Raksha, respectively; Idris Elba as Shere Khan; Scarlett Johansson as Kaa; and newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli.

“The Jungle Book” will combine live-action and animation with Jon Favreau directing from a script by Justin Marks. The film will be released in 3D and open on Oct. 9, 2015.

In Rudyard Kipling’s original book, Baloo and the panther Bagheera teach the law of the jungle to the boy Mowgli — and save him from Shere Khan the tiger.

Baloo’s character was popularized in Disney’s animated 1967 cartoon, thanks to the song “The Bare Necessities,” sung by Phil Harris.

Disney announced Murray’s casting Friday, a few hours after Warner Bros. announced that it had dated its rival project “Jungle Book: Origins” for Oct. 21, 2016. Kipling’s book is in the public domain.

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