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After just a little more than a month of development, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu decided that making a new adaptation of The Jungle Book with Warner Bros. just wasn't going to fit into his schedule, but already, it seems, the studio has found a replacement. Sources have informed The Hollywood Reporter that Ron Howard is currently in negotiations to take over the project both as a director and a producer.
The new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's classic collection of short stories is being written by Callie Kloves, who is the daughter of Harry Potter scribe Steve Kloves (also a producer on The Jungle Book). The film will tell the classic tale of Mowgli, an orphan boy raised by wolves in the jungles of India, who finds himself pulled between both the human and animal worlds. In addition to having been adapted multiple times before - the most notable versions being Disney's animated movie from 1967 and director Stephen Sommers's live-action take in 1994 - this is actually just one of two new Jungle Book films in the works, the other one set up at Walt Disney Studios with Jon Favreau directing.
As THR points out, most of Howard's directorial efforts has been primarily made at adults (Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind), but he does have some experience in the world of family filmmaking. His first came in 1988 when he made the fantasy tale Willow with Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer:
And then in 2000 he made the live-action version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey.
As a director Howard has always been good at regularly producing films, but he has been more active than ever lately. Last fall he released the racing drama Rush - which earned quite a bit of critical acclaim - and he is already in post-production on his adaptation of Heart of the Sea. In addition to The Jungle Book he is also attached to direct an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, as well as Inferno, the latest Dan Brown movie. At this stage it's hard to say exactly how his schedule is going to work out, but it's worth mentioning that Inferno already has a December 18, 2015 release date. If Warner Bros. is desperate enough, maybe Howard will try and sneak Jungle Book into his calendar somewhere before then.