Actor and filmmaker Andy Serkis released the first trailer of his version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book on Monday. The second version of Kipling’s 1894 collection of stories promises to be a darker telling of the story of feral child Mowgli, who is brought up by wolves in the forest and battles the fire-scarred tiger Shere Khan and intolerant humans in his attempt to be accepted again by society.

The film will be released on October 19. It stars Rohan Chand as Mowgli and motion capture performances by a top-drawer cast that includes Christian Bale as Bagheera the panther, Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan the tiger, and Cate Blanchett as Kaa the python. Serkis, who is one of the best-known motion capture performance artists, has provided the voice of Baloo the bear, who befriends Mowgli. Also in the cast are Peter Mullan as Akela, Tom Hollander as Tabaqui, Naomie Harris as Nisha and Eddie Marsan as Vihaan. Freida Pinto plays a role too. Mowgli has been scored by Nitin Sawhney.

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Mowgli (2019).

Disney had cornered the market on The Jungle Book for decades with its animated version from 1967, numerous spinoffs, and Jon Favreau’s live-action movie from 2016. Favreau’s Jungle Book, starring Neel Sethi as Mowgli, was a global blockbuster, and also did immensely well in India.

“Ours is for a slightly older audience,” Serkis told Vulture in an interview about the Warner Bros production. “It’s a PG-13, more a kind of ‘Apes’ movie, a slightly darker take, closer to Rudyard Kipling’s. 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.”

Freida Pinto in Mowgli. Image credit: Warner Bros.
Freida Pinto in Mowgli. Image credit: Warner Bros.