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Netflix Nabs Andy Serkis’ ‘Mowgli’ From Warner Bros.

Netflix has acquired Andy Serkis’ live-action “Mowgli” from Warner Bros. for an undisclosed price and will release the movie next year.

The deal is one of the biggest acquisitions for the streaming service. Warner Bros. had planned to debut the movie on Oct. 19.

A Netflix representative told Variety that the movie will have a theatrical release to go along with its release on the streaming service but provided no details. Netflix gave a cursory theatrical release at 17 North American locations last year to “Mudbound” to ensure that it qualified Academy Awards consideration but it never disclosed the grosses.

Footage screened at CinemaCon in April and the subsequent first trailer for “Mowgli” showed that Serkis crafted a darker version of “The Jungle Book,” based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic 19th century tale of a boy who grew up in the jungles of India.

Warner Bros. appeared to be making a major effort to differentiate the movie from Disney’s 2016 hit “The Jungle Book,” which generated $966 million at the worldwide box office. The CGI footage for “Mowgli” features threatening beasts such as the malevolent tiger Shere Khan, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Mowgli’s friend Bagheera is voiced by Christian Bale.

Serkis is portraying Baloo in this version (Bill Murray played the bear in “The Jungle Book”), adding to his extensive resume for CGI characters after playing Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” films and Caesar in the recent “Planet of the Apes” trilogy.

The film also stars Rohan Chand as Mowgli, Matthew Rhys, and Freida Pinto, with motion capture performances by Cate Blanchett and Naomie Harris, in addition to Cumberbatch, Bale, and Serkis. “Mowgli” is produced by Steve Kloves, Jonathan Cavendish and David Barron with Nikki Penny serving as executive producer.  The screenplay is by Kloves’ daughter, Callie Kloves. The Netflix news was first reported by Deadline.

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