Jon Favreau on honoring animated nostalgia with live action Jungle Book

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Sep 18, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT (Updated)

The first trailer for Jon Favreau’s (Iron Man) ambitious retelling of Disney’s The Jungle Book has landed — and the director has opened up on the immense challenge of turning an animated classic into a live-action tale.

Favreau chatted with Yahoo! about the project, and touched on how they’re balancing the motion capture and voice work to honor the 1967 animated classic. After seeing the first trailer (embedded below), it’s easy to see the challenge Favreau is working against. But if he manages to pull it off, this could be one heck of an epic feat. Of course, the star-studded cast of Bill Murray (Baloo), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), Idris Elba (Shere Khan) and Christopher Walken (King Louie) doesn't hurt.

Here’s an excerpt from Favreau’s comments on the project:

“People expect action from this adventure. The original film felt so young. And the musical memories we have from that film [don’t] fit tonally with a film that’s photo-real, where there’s real danger and emotional stakes. The storylines and the mythology behind Kipling’s stories are very different from the animated film. Navigating those waters is one of my toughest jobs as the director…

For a character like [King Louie] all of Walken’s facial expressions are worked in…the further you get away from the human, the less it matters. For Baloo, if you put too much of Bill Murray’s performance completely on [the bear], you start to hit an uncanny valley. But if you watch Baloo on screen, you will see Bill Murray come through.
But when it comes to a snake, there’s no reason to motion-capture Scarlett Johansson’s performance. If you use her performance to drive a digitally puppeted rig, the human expressions on a reptile start to look weird. It’s not the right effect. We really tried keep the performances within the believability of the animal species.”

Favreau is also making great use of his Twitter feed to keep fans posted on the project. He's started with a nice Q&A, but we imagine he'll also be posting some nice tidbits over the next several months. So, FYI.

Check out the trailer below and let us know what you think:


The Jungle Book opens April 15, 2016.

(Via Yahoo!)