With the influx of live action films based on fairy tales that are being planned, it’s far from surprising that multiple studios are working on the same property. We began dealing with this issue early when both Disney and Warner Bros began production on their own versions of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. The good news was that we could easily differentiate the two, as the Warner Bros. version included a subtitle, Origins. However, things just became really confusing, as now that subtitle has apparently been dropped.
To be clear, the movies will not have the exact same title, as the Disney version that hits theaters Friday is called The Jungle Book while, according to Den of Geek, the Warner Bros. version is now called simply, Jungle Book, without the definite article. See, they’re different. Not confusing at all.
This news comes on the heels of two other Jungle Book-related announcements that will only confuse things more. The first is that the Warner Bros. film has had its release date pushed back to 2018. The other is that Disney is already looking at putting together a sequel to The Jungle Book, with Jon Favreau possibly back to direct. The film has been getting universal praise and is expected to have a huge opening weekend.
Of course, by reviewing these two pieces of news, we may have tripped over the reason for the title switch. Before the Warner Bros. date shift, there was a year and a half between the two Jungle Book releases. Warner Bros. was likely looking to add some separation to avoid talking-animal fatigue among the audience. However, depending on how quickly Disney jumps on a sequel now, it’s possible that Warner will now be competing for eyeballs with The Jungle Book 2. Jungle Book: Origins now sounds like the title of the prequel to the Disney film, and it’s entirely possible that movie fans who aren’t paying close enough attention might think it’s exactly that. If they know a follow-up is coming, it’s certainly possible two years later that some might think this is it.
We need to make a chart...
At the end of the day, Warner Bros.' hands are somewhat tied. Exactly what title do you give a movie so that fans know it is a version of The Jungle Book without calling it that and risking confusion? It’s also possible that the subtitle was there in the first place, because Warner Bros. viewed Jungle Book as a potential franchise, but that’s no longer the case. The fact that Disney beat them to it, or the expense of the motion capture technology that they are using could be reasons for that.
Who do you think will win the battle of the Jungle Book’s? How confusing do you expect this all to get before it’s all said and done?