Disney has become a much bigger fan of “The Jungle Book,” tapping Justin Marks to write a live action version of the Rudyard Kipling tale as it produces a musical at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.
Marks’ script will focus on Mowgli who is raised by animals in the Indian jungle, where he befriends a bear and panther and is hunted by a vicious tiger.
Move to adapt “Jungle Book” comes as Disney is looking to expand its presence in India, considered by the company, along with China, to be one of the more active areas where it can best grow its family brand. Disney already owns a controlling stake in UTV Software Communications, one of Bollywood’s largest entertainment groups.
It also comes as Disney is looking to adapt more of its animated films into live action installments, with “Alice in Wonderland” and “Cinderella” also getting the bigscreen treatment.
Warner Bros. also has a “Jungle Book” actioner in the works, that Steve Kloves (the “Harry Potter” franchise) is penning.
Marks previously worked with Disney on the remake of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
Disney Theatrical Prods’ musical, based on the Kipling book, went live June 21 and will play in Chicago through Aug. 4, when it moves to Boston’s Huntington Theatre in September. Musical is adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman (“Metamorphoses”) and stars Akash Chopra as Mowgli.
Disney, of course, also produced the animated classic “The Jungle Book,” which was released in 1967.
Kipling published “The Jungle Book” in 1894.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the deal.