British actor Andy Serkis—who made his name playing the CGI-ified characters like Gollum in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot franchise—has signed on to direct the upcoming live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book.
The film from Warner Bros. will not only mark Serkis’ feature directorial debut, it will also plunge him into direct competition with Disney, which is working on its own live-action version of The Jungle Book. Picking Serkis to direct the film after a scheduling conflict caused Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu to quit the project gives Warner Bros. a fighting chance against the rival studio, which has already begun casting its film.
At this point, it’s still a toss-up as to which studio’s version will come out on top. Disney has Idris Elba as the voice of Shere Khan and Jon Favreau helming. On the other hand, Warner Bros. now has Serkis, who not only has stellar CGI skills, but also experience on second unit direction on Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy.