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Why It's OK For Andy Serkis' Jungle Book To Be Dark And Scary, According To Andy Serkis

When Jon Favreau's version of The Jungle Book became a box office force, so much so that it instantly green-lit a sequel, many spectators began to wonder what it all meant for the version that Andy Serkis has been working on for Warner Bros. Now, the first-time director has come out and said that his take on Rudyard Kipling's stories will be unique, because it will be a much darker take on the material. While some might worry such a thing could scare away younger viewers, and hurt the film’s box office, Serkis says that it will be fine, because kids should be scared now and then.

Speaking with Vulture, as part of the Cannes Film Festival, the Lord of the Rings actor explained that his version of Jungle Book, which will be based on motion-capture technology, rather than simple CGI animation, will be a more adult version of the story. While some aspects might be scary for a younger audience, Serkis said thatt’s fine, because kids are more sophisticated than most people give them credit for.

It’s great to scare kids in a safe environment because it’s an important part of development, and we all loved to be scared as kids, so we shouldn’t overly protect them. Kids are so sophisticated, and that is why our Jungle Book is quite dark. ... It’s a story of an outsider, someone who is trying to accept the laws and customs of a particular way of living and then has to adapt to another culture, a human culture, which of course he should be able to adapt to, because this is what he is. So it’s about two different species and their laws and customs, and neither are entirely right.

It’s certainly true that we, as people, enjoy being scared. It’s the reason the horror movie exists. For many, the excitement that comes with being scared starts at an early age. While Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book was not without its scary moments, the film ratings board in India received backlash due to its rating of the movie, specifically because of the way it might have scared children. The fact that Andy Serkis is looking for a PG-13 rating certainly seems to imply that his version will be a bit more adult.

In addition, Andy Serkis’ description of his film also separates it from the Disney live-action version simply based on its subject matter. We never see the Mowgli of the current Jungle Book dealing with the laws and customs of either society that he deals with. He has already accepted the world of the wolves as the film opens, and never tries to adapt to being a man. While the two films may have started with the same source material, it appears they have taken it in two very different directions.

Did you think Disney’s live-action Jungle Book wasn’t scary enough? Does the Andy Serkis version sound more to your liking? Let us know what you think in the comments. 

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.