Talk about a rumble in the jungle: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Benedict Cumberbatch are among the big-name actors to join the cast of Warner Bros.' "Jungle Book: Origins," setting up a star-studded showdown with Disney's rival Rudyard Kipling adaptation, "The Jungle Book."
Bale will voice the noble panther Bagheera, Blanchett will voice the hypnotic python Kaa and Cumberbatch will voice the fearsome tiger Shere Khan, The Times has confirmed. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.
Rounding out the animal cast are Naomie Harris, Tom Hollander, Eddie Marsan and Peter Mullan. Rohan Chand ("Bad Words") will play Mowgli, a human boy who learns the law of the jungle while being raised in the wild.
Motion-capture expert Andy Serkis is directing "Origins" — which will employ mo-cap, CG animation and live action — from a script by Callie Kloves. Serkis will also portray the sleepy brown bear Baloo. Kloves' father, writer Steve Kloves of the "Harry Potter" films, is producing the film with Jonathan Cavendish.
Meanwhile, Disney's own updated take on Kipling's 1894 story collection, which is in the public domain, is being directed by Jon Favreau, with a menagerie including Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong'o and Bill Murray.
Favreau's film will hit theaters first, on Oct. 9, 2015. "Origins" will follow a year later, on Oct. 21, 2016.
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