The streaming giant said it would give the picture a limited theatrical release from Nov. 29 in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and London. “Mowgli” will then be available globally on Netflix from Dec. 7. Following that, it will have an expanded theatrical release in additional theaters in the U.S. and U.K.
The film sees Serkis (“Lord of the Rings”) give a radical spin to the classic Rudyard Kipling novel about a boy raised in the jungle. According to Netflix, the boy, Mowgli, is “torn between two worlds, accepts his destiny and becomes a legend…[He] has never truly belonged in either the wilds of the jungle or the civilized world of man [and] now must navigate the inherent dangers of each on a journey to discover where he truly belongs.”
“I wanted to make an emotional version of this story, which has already been told many times,“ Serkis said Thursday in Singapore. “I wanted to explore being an outsider. Being dislodged, being other. It is a hugely contemporary idea that could do with exploration.“
Netflix snagged the film from Warner Bros. in July this year. The acquisition is believed to be one of Netflix’s costliest purchases. Warner Bros. had planned to release the movie in October.
The streamer’s theatrical release plans honor a commitment made by Netflix at the time of the film’s acquisition. It also set up the visually spectacular and talent-laden film for entry into the Academy Awards race. “Mowgli” stars newcomer Rohan Chand in the title role, with an all-star supporting cast in performance-capture roles, including Serkis, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Freida Pinto, Matthew Rhys and Naomie Harris.
Netflix’s move is also in line with commitments to give theatrical releases to Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” and “Bird Box.” Netflix has been rebuffed by some festivals, most notably Cannes, and some film trade associations for not doing enough to show its big-screen productions in theaters.