The Jungle Book joust between Warner Bros. and Disney has taken another exciting twist, as the former have just recruited Benedict Cumberbatch to voice tyrannical tiger Shere Khan.
Disney announced some time ago that Luther himself, Idris Elba, will bring the man-eater to life for their version of the Rudyard Kipling novel.
So team Warner, with Andy Serkis at the helm, now reads as Benedict Cumberbatch… yep, that’s about it. The youthful Sherlock star is indeed the first name on the cast list for Jungle Book: Origins, to give the project its proper title, but for now the irony of two TV detectives playing the same part will surely not be lost.
And while Disney may hold the upper paw at the moment, with a cast pretty much all present and correct since Bill Murray agreed to play Baloo, Warner Bros. are safe in the knowledge that Serkis and Cumberbatch are no strangers to each other. The pair collaborated only last year for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Whether or not fans will be able to decide which Khan earns his stripes, only time will tell. Both, however, are perfect choices to pay homage to the deep, melodious, quintessentially English tones made famous by George Sanders, who voiced Shere Khan for the classic 1967 motion picture.
Cinema-goers could be waiting in greater anticipation for the Warner Bros. edition for two reasons. Firstly, it will come to life through the motion capture and computer imagery that Serkis has almost made his own. Secondly, this will lend itself to the inspiration of Kipling’s darker short stories that the film will be drawing on, rather than just The Jungle Book story alone – more akin to the spirit of the 1942 Korda production than the family-friendly atmosphere of Disney’s animated offering.
With a release date set for October 2016, Origins certainly has plenty of time to sign some more big names.