Everyone in the studio was on the same page: they were going to use new technology to tell an old story! And so began the journey that was the remake of The Jungle Book! An animated classic from 1967 was to be reimagined as a live action movie, which we now know has been a huge hit:
Audiences were mesmerized by Disney’s live-action epic adventure “The Jungle Book,” which has earned more than $949 million at the global box office to date. Critically acclaimed, Jon Favreau’s stunning live-action reimagining of Walt Disney’s animated classic, will be available early on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on August 23, and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On-Demand on August 30.
On my recent trip to Los Angeles for Disney, 24 other bloggers and myself sat down with Producer Brigham Taylor and Visual Effect Supervisor Rob Legato to chat about the making of the movie:
Our first question was, how long did it take to get this movie, from start to finish, to the theater. There are several answers to the question, but basically, from the first discussion to the final edit, it was two and a half years. Decisions on how to make the movie, story writing and editing, and then pre-production, all take a long time and are parts of that time period. It was understood that there would be no real animals used in the film, so planning the scale of the animals, the scale of the jungle, all had to be done by the time Neel (Mowgli) was ready to film. These are the details that I find fascinating.
It was intriguing to hear Rob talk about the fact that there was a lot of imagination necessary when you are planning a film like this. “the blue screen stage is really difficult to come up with ideas because there’s nothing there. It’s almost stupefying. So, you need to have in your head a very clear idea so you can actually direct the shot and even judge it if it’s working out.”
Rob also spoke about his hope for what people will remember about the film in years to come. CGI is still looked down upon by some, so he hopes someday people won’t separate that type of filmmaking as an issue. After all, people wear fake clothes, say words that are not there own, and act on fake sets. He hopes people will not differentiate between digital and non-digital. He made a good point!
And the detail of the live action animals was important, Idris Elba is not just reciting words, this is live action, not animation, so they work the CGI to include his voice and emotion. That is the attention to detail that makes this all come together, they melded the actors and actresses to their CGI counterparts. “I got a big thrill from it was for some reason of all the characters, and they are all great, is something about Idris Elba playing that character and the melding of his voice, his performance, the character he was playing, the way it was animated, that represented his emotion and then the way it was photographed and the sole total of the composite of that went wow, that’s a real character.”
Brigham had no idea if it was all going to work, until he saw the movie with his kids. He knew he made a great product, but you still need to see the audience’s reaction, “for me it was sitting with my kids and, and having them respond to it and, and both having the glee of experiencing these characters that they are really engaged with, which is always the hope, but also the wonderment of not being sure how it even happened, and so that was really exhilarating.”
It was interesting to hear about whether or not there were any technical limitations in the production of the movie, was there anything they could not do? Happily the guys agreed, the only limitations were the boundaries set by themselves, like the length of the movie. The duration of the movie was always something to be aware of, but technically they were able to do everything they set out to do!
And now for the Blu-ray set-up! We wanted to know about the extra bits, the reason I love to own a Blu-ray! The guys said, they tried to capture everything from start to finish, in regards to the production of the movie. Brigham: “We felt this was going to be an interesting process and project so we were capturing stuff at every key point throughout so that we would have options and you kind of get it all. We have a great team at Disney that produces this stuff and so they come back and start to say — because they have fresh perspective in saying this was really fascinating.”
Director Jon Favreau is on the Blu-ray chatting with Brigham and Rob, here is a spot featuring the three guys talking about the opening scene, and Brigham had told us that his son shot part of it:
There is always a celebrity pic! Brigham is on the left, and Rob is on the right, in the midst of all the bloggers!
Disclosure: Disney invited me on this press trip and paid all of my expenses. No other compensation was received. All opinions are always 100% my own and honest.