First Look: The Jungle Book (Live-Action)

Blake Harris 09.16.2015

Yesterday, Disney released the first trailer for their upcoming live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book. It’s rare to see something animated transformed into a live-action experience (usually, if anything, it’s the other way around)  so we were particularly eager to check out this initial execution and take a quick look through history to see how we got here.

Here’s the trailer:

For those unfamiliar with The Jungle Book, here’s a quick history…

The Jungle Book (1894)

The Jungle Book was originally written by author Rudyard Kipling in 1894. Despite the singular narrative of future iterations and adaptations, Kipling’s book was actually a collection of short stories. The best-known of them–and what led to our collective familiarity with this property–are the three stories revolving around the adventures of an abandoned “man cub” named Mowgli who is raised by wolves in the Indian jungle.

original jungle book

In 1967, Walt Disney Animation Studios released an animated film inspired by the Mowgli stories. Though sometimes criticized for taking creative liberties, the movie was extremely popular and considered a phenomenal success.


Also in 1967, a very different animated adaptation of The Jungle Book was made in the Soviet Union. Well, five different versions, actually. The first of which was called Mowgli. In the following years, four more animated films of similar lengths (around 20 minutes) but different subject matters were released. Then, in 1973, all of these films were combined into a single 96-minute feature film.


In 1990, Disney created an animated television series called TaleSpin, which was based loosely on The Jungle Book. For example, the lead character of this show was a bear named Baloo who bore a striking resemblance to the sloth bear featured in the ’67 film. Unlike the animated classic, however, TaleSpin‘s Baloo was commonly dressed in a yellow shirt and flight cap as much of the story revolves around his misadventures as a professional pilot.


Yesterday, of course, a trailer for Disney’s upcoming live-action version of The Jungle Book was released. The film, which will come out in April 2016, has been in development since late 2013. For those who loved the original version and are worried about this adaptation, here are a couple of reasons to be excited:

  • The film is directed by Jon Favreau who has not only proven capable of delivering high-stakes, character-driven drama with Iron Man, but also demonstrated a fun, funny, family-friendly touch with Elf.
  • The principal cast includes some incredibly talented performers: Bill Murray (as Baloo), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa) and Idris Elba (Shere Khan)

Blake Harris

Blake Harris is the author of "Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation."
Blake Harris

Similar Stories