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Benedict Cumberbatch Joins Warner Bros. 'Jungle Book' Adaptation

Airing in theaters in October 2016, Warner Bros.’ adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” casts its first voice lead.

Warner Bros.’ live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” has landed its first voice lead, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter.

Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan, the man-eating tiger who is the villain of the classic tale of a boy named Mowgli who is raised by jungle animals.

Releasing October 21, 2016, Jungle Book: Origins will be the directorial debut for motion capture pioneer Andy Serkis. Serkis will also produce the film alongside Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves and Jonathan Cavendish, Serkis’ partner at their London-based production company The Imaginarium. Callie Kloves wrote the script.

Serkis previously served as second unit director for Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy adaptation and also appeared as Gollum, while Cumberbatch did voice and motion capture work as the dragon Smaug.

The Jungle Book is based on the short stories written by Kipling and centers on Mowgli, an orphaned boy raised by wolves who befriends Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther. The tiger Shere Khan is a lifelong enemy of Mowgli’s, with each vowing to slay the other.

Warner Bros.’ Jungle Book: Origins is competing against Disney’s adaptation, which is fully cast with Jon Favreau directing. Idris Elba is voicing Shere Kahn in that version, which releases a full year earlier on October 9, 2015.