Netflix recently acquired the movie rights for Andy Serkis’ third directorial effort, Animal Farm. The streaming giant will develop the film adaptation of George Orwell’s novel, with Serkis as both director and producer. Details about this movie are still scarce, since they are yet to begin production.
That being said, Netflix will also be the distributor for Serkis’ other upcoming flick, Mowgli. It will come out in 2019 and will also have a 3D release in theaters. Back in 2016, both Disney and Warner Bros (WB) were competing to complete their versions of The Jungle Book. The Disney version (directed by Jon Favreau) won the race, releasing their version to commercial and critical acclaim.
Red Carpet Crash previously featured the Mowgli trailer and it clearly appears that Serkis’ darker take on Rudyard Kipling’s story is more faithful to its source material. Due to success of Disney’s 2016 film, WB had been trying to time the release of their version to make it stand by itself. That’s when Netflix came into the picture. The Verge got the scoop that Warner Bros sold the worldwide rights for Mowgli to the streaming company last month.
This release has a star-studded cast including Christian Bale as Mowgli’s panther mentor, Bagheera; Cate Blanchett as the snake, Kaa; Benedict Cumberbatch as the tiger, Shere Khan; and Serkis as the bear, Baloo. In a recent interview, Serkis expressed that this latest development will only serve to benefit the film. He said, “we avoid comparisons to the other movie and it’s a relief not to have the pressure.”
Serkis has been working on the project since 2012, and it’s a culmination of his experiences in the industry. He started out as a stage actor who received mainstream recognition through his motion capture performance as Gollum/Smeagol in the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy. Serkis could have easily gone back to stage acting, but LOTR director Peter Jackson convinced him to take on King Kong.
From then on out, Serkis translated that part into a filmography of roles that required motion capture performance including Captain Haddock in Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin, Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Caesar in the second reboot of the Planet of the Apes trilogy.
Over the past seven years, Serkis has become best known for his appearance in the Planet of the Apes movie series. The advanced computer effects combined with Serkis’ soulful portrayal of Caesar erased the bad feelings that die-hard fans still harboured for the Tim Burton version. The new trilogy was both a critical and financial success thanks in large part to Caesar’s pivotal role in the franchise. The popularity of the new ‘Apes films actually led to licensing and merchandising spin-offs across various industries. Fox has commissioned IDW to publish new comics featuring characters from both movie continuities. Additionally, Cheeky Bingo has many games based on Hollywood blockbusters including their own take on the rebooted Planet of the Apes series. Andy Serkis’ character Cesar features prominently in the game’s many scenes from the movies. Cesar’s global popularity has also led to him appearing on t-shirts as part of one of Generation Hustle’s apparel lines focused on the franchise that has successfully tapped into the franchise’s vast fanbase.
Computer effects may mask Serkis’ features but he has an ubiquitous presence in media and his stellar career in the movie industry is going from strength-to-strength. So it’s not at all surprising that Netflix wants to be in business with the actor/director and it looks like we’ll be seeing the Englishman’s artistic influence for many years to come.