After making headlines earlier this year with their surprise acquisition of The Cloverfield Paradox from Paramount, Netflix is once again stepping in to provide an alternative release strategy for a major studio with their biggest acquisition yet. The streaming giant has picked up the worldwide rights to Mowgli, Andy Serkis’ upcoming live-action / CG hybrid film based on the The Jungle Book. Warner Brothers has been struggling to figure out how to market this movie which features a darker take on the material but could be easily confused with the Disney live-action movie and its sequel. It would appear that Netflix is the solution they were looking for. Serkis had this to say about the deal:
“I’m really excited about Netflix for Mowgli. Now, we avoid comparisons to the other movie and it’s a relief not to have the pressure… They understand this is a darker telling that doesn’t fit it into a four quadrant slot. It’s really not meant for young kids, though I think it’s possible that 10 or above can watch it. It was always meant to be PG-13, and this allows us to go deeper, with darker themes, to be scary and frightening in moments. The violence between animals is not gratuitous, but it’s definitely there. This way of going allows us to get the film out without compromise…
I think this is their largest acquisition, it’s a big movie, but I never looked at it as a big blockbuster movie. It’s hard to quantify. It has the scale of a blockbuster, but it’s somewhere between Life of Pi and an Apes movie. It has that reality to it, same as Okja had. We are talking about 2019 and circling dates. Netflix has allowed the film making that I wanted to do, to exist and they’ve created an atmosphere for me kind of storytelling I set out to do.”
Netflix will also release the movie theatrically so that audiences get a chance to see it in 3D as originally intended. It seems like a good deal for everyone involved, but obviously it has also led to speculation that the movie is terrible. Perhaps that is the new assumption when it comes to Netflix acquisitions, but this one feels like a unique situation. Mowgli stars Christian Bale, Cate Blanchet, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris, Andy Serkis, Matthew Rhys, Freida Pinto and Rohan Chand and it will be released sometime in 2019. Do you think this was a smart move by Warner Brothers?