He's come a long way from playing Gutter in the cult-classic, PCU, and now Jon Favreau is firing-up the hyperdrive and heading toward a galaxy far, far away. This morning, Lucasfilm announced that the Emmy-nominated producer and actor has signed on to executive produce and write a live-action Star Wars series for Disney’s new direct-to-consumer platform. Favreau has played roles in both the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series and has a role in the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story.
At the D23 Expo in Anaheim this summer, I was in the room when Jon Favreau walked on stage to present a first-look at early footage from his reimagining of THE LION KING. I truly wish that all of you could see it, because it's phenomenal. Still, it was unfinished, but an evolution of the photorealistic animation that Favreau did so well with on last year's THE JUNGLE BOOK. Today comes word from Disney that the cast for this new vision for the 1994 animated classic has been assembled. See the full lineup below!
Get ready for a new trip to The Pride Lands, as The Walt Disney Studios confirmed this morning that it's partnering with Director Jon Favreau for a reimagining of THE LION KING, currently "on the fast track to production." Given the success of Disney's other recent live-action "contemporary" versions of its famous tales, it was pretty much expected that THE LION KING would eventually happen, but with the massive triumph of Favreau's THE JUNGLE BOOK, he certainly proved that there's no better person for the job.
One of this year's biggest films is coming home... Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK will be available early on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on August 23, and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On-Demand on August 30 (a 3D Blu-ray will be released later this year - date TBA). In addition to being one of my favorites of 2016 thus far, I was fortunate to have attended it's red carpet premiere and conducted interviews with Director Jon Favreau and much of the cast back in April (see all coverage here). Check out all the features on the in-home release below...
"I think it's very close to what Rudyard Kipling envisioned, which was an enormous leap in his imagination -- a child literally living with and talking with animals." That's how Sir Ben Kingsley described his first impressions of Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK as he joined a group of 25 writers for some discussion leading into the film's record-breaking recent release. "With all respect to its predecessor in the '60's, that was an animated cartoon child talking to animated cartoons, but this is a little boy, and we are blessed with him. Neel [Sethi] is amazing! What you see is he's with animals, which is wonderful!" In the film, Sir Ben provides the voice of Bagheera, a black panther that helps raise Mowgli, serving somewhat as an overseer after placing the young man-cub in the care of wolves Rashka (voiced by Lupita Nyong'o) and Akela (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito). "I didn't see him as a father figure at all," recalls Sir Ben, "But I did see him in military terms as if I was training a young cadet into how to survive in, in particular circumstances. "
As I said upon leaving the World Premiere at the El Capitan Theatre, Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK is an unexpectedly astonishing and beautiful film, not only in terms of visuals, but in terms of content and weight. To say it must be seen on the big screen and in 3D is an undeniable truth, a testament to the technological marvel created under the direction of filmmaker Jon Favreau (ELF, IRON MAN) - a modern digital film that pushes the boundaries of what can be done with photo-realistic CG to new heights, but also retains the feel of an organic, handmade film. Despite my unabashed appreciation for much of Favreau's back catalog, when the film was first announced a few years back, I must admit that I was apprehensive as to how, exactly, it would play out. As a fan of the 1967 original (reviewed here), and as a moviegoer that's sometimes burnt by the overuse of CG, how could it be done? Fortunately, many of these same issues had been considered and addressed early-on in the process, and the end result is wonderful. Could THE JUNGLE BOOK be every bit as good, if not better than the classic that inspired it? I say yes.