El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood was the site for a sneak peek at some of the scenes from the upcoming new Disney Film “The Jungle Book” along with the opportunity to hear from Director Jon Favreau and Visual Effects Supervisor, Rob Legato.
The new live action film is based on the animated movie of the same name from 1967 which in turn was based on the story by Rudyard Kipling. Yet while the film takes us back to the characters and story we know, it is not what you might remember as a kid. The new version is actually more along the lines of the original Kipling story – dark and dramatic. The adventure has Mowgli (played by Neel Sethi) the man-cub raised by a family of wolves running from Shere Khan, the fearsome tiger who is out to seek revenge against Mowgli who he sees as a threat. Along side, mentor Bagheera, the panther and buddy Baloo the bear, Mowgli runs into jungle creatures who are not exactly the friendliest. From the seductive voice and gaze of Kaa, the python to smooth talker, King Louie, Mowgli and his buddies need to stay one step ahead of danger.
Watching the clips and listening to Jon Favreau and Rob Legato talking about The Jungle Book, was beyond impressive. The ability to bring to the screen life like animals interacting with real actors is something that still leaves this Entertainment Report in awe. Using the state of the art technology, Disney’s team of animators and special effects use CGI (computer generated imagery) environments along with photo-real animal characters to bring to life, Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), King Louie (Christopher Walken), Baloo (Bill Murray), Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), Shere Khan (Iridis Elba) and many other characters in a way that only Disney can. Taking Sethi, the only human character in the film and placing him in backgrounds and scenes that will blow the audience away.
The Jungle Book is directed by Jon Jon Favreau from the screenplay by Justin Marks, the film includes the talents of Visual Effects Supervisor Rob Legato. Famous for conceiving the virtual production of Avatar, winning Academy awards for Hugo, Titanic and an oscar nomination for Apollo 13, Legato brings his knowledge and experience to The Jungle Book.
To Favreau and other members of the crew, The Jungle Book left an impressionable image as kids. Now as adults and with incredible technology at their fingertips, Favreau talks about the ability to “tell the story in the manner Kipling actually might have imagined it – that of a real kid in a real jungle living with actual animals that just happen to be able to talk to him.”
The goal of Favreau and the team was to create a world where movie goers would be transported into the story and forget the technological portions of the film. “Walt Disney was always at the cutting edge of technology.” Legato took “photo-real animation, motion capture techniques and live-action shooting and combined the three in way that no one had ever done before.” Taking some of the concepts used in Disneyland, they made the animals a bit bigger than life or in the case of King Louie, huge! Legato’s VFX team joined the animation team of Andy Jones. They shot footage of animals in their nature habitats in the wild. Taking the footage and adding cutting edge CGI, they were able to take the characteristics and mannerisms of the animals and transfer it to the screen. Building a digital jungle, enabled them to enhance areas as needed. Be it the color and shape of the foliage, or the minute movements of the animals, the audience will be transported to the jungles of India surrounded by realistic looking animals and taken on the adventures of a lifetime with Mowgli and his friends.
Watching the sneak peek, had me gripping my box of popcorn as I silently watched the screen filled with enormous bulk of King Louie, appreciated the mastery behind the look of Bagheera and was once again amazed by the ability of the Disney magic to combine all the aspects needed to make “The Jungle Book” a one of a kind experience. I can’t wait to see the animals performing some of my favorite songs.
Below are a few pictures from the event and film including 2 of my favorites – King Louie and the audience hypnotized by the scenes. This is one film that will bring a whole new look to the old favorite, taking your childhood memories and bringing them to life, bigger and better than ever. Coming to theaters, April 15, 2016, “The Jungle Book” is no longer the animated classic you grew up with.