'The Jungle Book 2' Will Resurrect Unused Disney Ideas, Explore More Rudyard Kipling Stories [TCA 2018]

During /Film's interview with screenwriter Justin Marks, creator of Starz's new series Counterpart, we asked about his screenplay for the developing live-action Jungle Book sequel.

The Jungle Book 2 was announced back in April of 2016, but we haven't heard much on development since then. Jon Favreau is busy directing a new version of The Lion King in a way similar to how he made The Jungle Book, so it's tough to say when we might see the sequel. Thankfully, Marks offered some details as to what we might see from the sequel.

Not only is there more Rudyard Kipling material to mine for a sequel, but also unused material from the Disney animated film too. Writer Bill Peet originally developed the 1967 animated version of Jungle Book, but Walt Disney rejected his screenplay, causing Peet to leave the studio. Marks says some of that may make it onto the big screen after all.

"In the second film, the idea is to go further through the Kipling but also go into some of the Disney resources from the '67 film that maybe didn't get to see the light of day in the first film," Marks said. "If you look back to Bill Peet's work on the original film, some of which was thrown out by Walt Disney, Jon [Favreau] and I really dove deep into the Disney archives to see some of the ideas. We were like, 'Wait, that's a great idea. We really need that in the film.' So we've built it out like that."

The first Favreau-directed film did not complete the Rudyard Kipling story of The Jungle Book. The author wrote a sequel to his own book, and there are plenty of untapped stories to use for the movie.

"There is so much more Kipling to adapt," Marks said. "I just finished a draft of it quite recently. Even in the first film, we really looked to the other Kipling stories for inspiration, The Elephant and the history and the mythology and the creation of the jungle."

Kipling's The Jungle Book also deals with Mowgli's return to the world of men. That was not how Favreau's film ended. Will the sequel go there?

"I won't get into spoilers," Marks said. "The Kipling [story] ends with Mowgli returning to the man village, returning to man in some way. Obviously we wanted to suspend that at the end of the film, mostly because I felt like in a story of identity and appropriated identity, a boy from one world raised in another, it was important to Jon and it was important to me to tell a story about family being what you make of it, and identity being the people around you and that's who you are. So it didn't feel right to send him to another place, at least in the first film. A later film, maybe we reevaluate that."

The Jungle Book 2 doesn't have a release date yet, but Counterpart premieres January 21, 2018 on Starz, and we'll have our full interview with Marks before that.