The Jungle Book is a 2016 American fantasy adventure film directed by Jon Favreau, written by Justin Marks and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s eponymous collective works and inspired by Walt Disney’s 1967 animated film of the same name, The Jungle Book is a live-action/CGI film that tells the story of Mowgli, an orphaned human boy who, guided by his animal guardians, sets out on a journey of self-discovery while evading the threatening Shere Khan. The film introduces Neel Sethi as Mowgli and also features the voices of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito and Christopher Walken.
Favreau, Marks and producer Brigham Taylor developed the film’s story as a balance between Disney’s animated adaptation and Kipling’s original works, adapting elements from both into the film. Principal photography commenced in 2014, with filming taking place entirely in Los Angeles. The film required extensive use of computer-generated imagery to portray the animals and settings. The Jungle Book was released in North America in Disney Digital 3-D, RealD 3D, IMAX 3D, D-Box, as well as premium large formats, on April 15, 2016.
Mowgli is a “man cub” raised by the Indian wolf Raksha and her pack, led by Akela, ever since he was brought to them as a baby by the black panther Bagheera within the jungles of Seoni, Madhya Pradesh. Bagheera trains Mowgli to learn the ways of the wolves, but the boy faces certain challenges and falls behind his wolf siblings, and Akela berates him for using human tricks like building tools instead of learning the ways of the pack.
One day, during the dry season, the jungle animals gather to drink water that remains as part of a truce called during a drought that enables the jungle’s wildlife to drink without fear of being eaten by larger, more predatory beasts. The truce is disrupted, however, when a scarred Bengal tiger, Shere Khan, arrives, detecting Mowgli’s scent in the crowd. Resentful against man for scarring him, he issues a warning that he will kill Mowgli at the end of the drought. As the wolf pack debates whether they should keep Mowgli or not, Mowgli voluntarily decides to leave the jungle for the safety of his pack. Bagheera agrees with the decision and volunteers to guide him to the nearby man village.
En route, Shere Khan ambushes them and injures Bagheera, but Mowgli manages to escape. Later, Mowgli meets Kaa, an enormous Indian python, who hypnotizes him. While under Kaa’s hypnosis, Mowgli sees a vision of his father being mauled while protecting him from Shere Khan. The vision also warns of the destructive power of the “red flower”. Kaa then attempts to devour Mowgli, but he is rescued by a sloth bear named Baloo. Together, they form a close bond after realizing their teamwork allows them to get honey easily for Baloo, and Mowgli agrees to stay with Baloo until the winter season arrives. Meanwhile, Shere Khan confronts the wolf pack, but upon learning Mowgli has left the jungle, he kills Akela and takes over the hills to lure Mowgli out.
Bagheera eventually finds Mowgli and Baloo and is angered by Mowgli’s usage of tricks to get Baloo his honey. An argument flares between Mowgli and Bagheera, but Baloo calms them down and persuades both of them to sleep on it. During the night, Mowgli finds a herd of elephants gathered around a ditch, and uses his vines to save a baby elephant from the ditch. Although Baloo and Bagheera are both impressed, Baloo realizes he cannot guarantee Mowgli’s safety after Bagheera tells him that Shere Khan is hunting for Mowgli. Baloo agrees to push Mowgli away in an effort to get him to continue onward to the man village.
However, Mowgli is kidnapped by the Bandar-log who present him to their leader, a humongous Bornean orangutan-like Gigantopithecus named King Louie. Assuming that all humans can summon the red flower, King Louie offers Mowgli protection from Shere Khan in exchange for the red flower. Baloo distracts Louie while Bagheera tries to sneak out with Mowgli, but their plan is discovered. As Louie chases Mowgli though his temple, he informs Mowgli of Akela’s death. His rampage eventually causes his temple to crumble on top of him. Furious that Baloo and Bagheera never told him about Akela’s death, Mowgli goes to confront Shere Khan alone.
Finding the man village, Mowgli steals a lit torch to use as a weapon and heads back to the jungle, accidentally starting a wildfire in the process. He confronts Shere Khan, who points out that Mowgli has made himself the enemy of the jungle by causing the wildfire. Mowgli throws the torch into the water, giving Shere Khan the advantage. Baloo, Bagheera, and the wolf pack intervene and hold Shere Khan off, giving Mowgli enough time to set a trap. He lures Shere Khan up a tree and onto a branch, which breaks under the tiger’s weight, and the tiger falls to his death into the fire below.
In the aftermath, Raksha becomes the new leader of the wolf pack. Mowgli decides to utilize his equipment and tricks for his own use, having found his true home and calling with his wolf family, Baloo, and Bagheera.
The musical score for The Jungle Book was composed by frequent Favreau collaborator John Debney. Though Favreau decided not to make the film a musical, nevertheless, he and Debney incorporated several songs from the 1967 animated film. “The Bare Necessities”, written by Terry Gilkyson, is performed by Murray and Sethi, and a cover version by Dr. John is featured in the end credits. “I Wan’na Be Like You” and “Trust in Me”—written by the Sherman Brothers—are performed by Walken and Johansson, respectively; Richard M. Sherman wrote revised lyrics for Walken’s version of “I Wan’na Be Like You”. Johansson’s rendition of “Trust in Me” was produced by Mark Ronson and appears in the end credits only. Walt Disney Records released the film’s soundtrack on April 15, 2016.