Warner Bros.’ executive brain trust just announced how they’re switching the release of Jungle Book: Origins, their performance-capture epic voiced by Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch and Cate Blanchett, from October 6, 2017 to October 19, 2018. Viewers out for immediate Jungle Book gratification can get their fix from Disney’s performance-capture 3D version—featuring the vocal stylings of Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray and Lupita Nyong’o—when it hits theaters next week on April 15.
With Warner’s Andy Serkis-directed version of Kipling’s classic tale (to recap, a human boy is raised by wolves and hunted by a tiger) now on the far horizon, the studio is bumping up its release of Wonder Woman, from June 23 to June 2, 2017. Look, for sanity’s sake, let’s leave aside the question of why anyone would spend millions assuming international audiences are craving two competing Jungle Book movies. So why did Warner Bros. make the switches? And how are they intertwined? With critics responding positively to prerelease screenings of Disney’s Jon Favreau-directed version, which currently boasts a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 76 percent on the pickier Metacritic, maybe, just maybe, the more distance put between the two versions, the better.
Meanwhile, it’s an open secret that the Warner Bros. is taking a hosing on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which comes hot on the heels of their other recent costly missteps including The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Jupiter Ascending, In the Heart of the Sea and Pan (alone a rumored $130 million write down). If the studio brass thought they had a money train and a foolproof DC Extended Superhero Universe franchise-launcher in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, worldwide audiences are sending them mixed messages. So they reportedly plan to circle the wagons by releasing fewer original movies and focusing instead on “silo” flicks, i.e. DC Comics, Lego and Harry Potter spinoffs. Accordingly, actress Gal Gadot made a splash as Wonder Woman in the Zach Snyner-directed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which means they’re accelerating the release date of Wonder Woman.
Observes a former studio executive, “Some might look at slightly bumping up Wonder Woman as a Hail Mary pass but it could also be a big face-saver.” Meanwhile, director Andy Serkis says on his Facebook page that he’s “absolutely thrilled” about Warner’s year delay. He says of his version, believed to be a darker take closer to Rudyard Kipling’s beloved novel, “What we are attempting is an unprecedented level of psychological and emotional nuance in morphing the phenomenal performances of our cast into the facial expressions of our animals. So, every minute more that we have to evolve the technological pipeline will make all the difference.”