The 90th Anniversary of Mickey Mouse is a big deal for Disney fans, and that means a lot of cool new merch. Some of it's already been featured here, but other items continue to roll out, such as a new lineup of products from Funko, including an assortment of their signature Pop! Vinyl figures. My friends over at Entertainment Earth (an affiliate) are taking pre-orders for a bunch of the new items including Pop Pencils, Pocket Pop! Keychains and Mini Vinyl Blind Box Figures, but it's the five Pop! Vinyls that will likely have collectors scrambling. Apprentice Mickey, Conductor Mickey, Brave Little Tailor Mickey and Firefighter Mickey are all there, and you can't celebrate such a milestone without throwing it back to where it all began with Steamboat Willie Mickey!
As the saying goes, it's been "one of the worst-kept secrets" in Hollywood the past few weeks, but now it's as official as it can be... a press release was issued this morning to confirm that "The Walt Disney Company to Acquire 21st Century Fox, Inc. after spin-off of certain businesses." Now, for the casual reader that doesn't necessarily follow the business side of entertainment, 21st Century Fox is indeed what you know as 20th Century Fox - the result of a corporate name change that happened back in 2013. Bottom line is that Disney will now control the Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with cable and international TV businesses. What's important to note is that 21st Century Fox will separate the Fox Broadcasting network and stations into a newly-listed company that will be spun-off to its shareholders prior to the acquisition. That means that Disney will not take ownership of Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 or Big Ten Network. So what will happen for fans of the great content that Disney and Fox have been producing? All signs point to good things. More 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.
With all the news and features that I've been sharing about Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK this week, the time to finally see the film is upon us, and for those in select states, one viewing experience that should be at the top of your list is to see it in Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime. I was supposed to enjoy a screening of the film in Burbank last Sunday with Stuart Bowling, Director, Content and Creative Relations at Dolby Laboratories, but thanks to an 8-hour delay on my flight out of Chicago, I missed it. Fortunately, I have experienced Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime a the AMC Hawthorn 12 in Vernon Hills, Illinois - not far from Rock Father HQ. It's a premium cinema offering, and the first that my wife and I ever found that offered reserved seating. Curious what it's all about? Read on, friends!
Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK is as much a movie about what it means to be a family, as it is a family film. An action-packed re-imagining from director Jon Favreau (IRON MAN, CHEF) and based on both the 1967 animated feature and the original stories from Rudyard Kipling, at the heart of the story is Mowgli, the man-cub found and raised by Panther Bagheera, a protector who placed the child in the care of wolves Raksha (voiced by Lupita Nyong'o) and Akela (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito), who welcome the youngster into their pack, and raise him with the same love and values as their own flesh and blood. At the recent JUNGLE BOOK press junket, I joined a group of fellow writers to spend some time with Nyong'o and Esposito to gain a little insight into their creative process for the film, and how their own familial experiences helped shape what they brought to these famed wolves.