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‘Jungle Book: Origins’ Casts Benedict Cumberbatch as the Voice of Shere Khan

Benedict Cumberbatch Shere Khan Jungle Book
Warner Bros.

Yes, we live in a world where there are dueling ‘Jungle Book’ adaptations and, no, neither project appears to be backing down. For whatever reason, two separate movie studios have decided that Rudyard Kipling’s iconic stories about Mowgli and his animal allies and adversaries deserve a reboot, and the latest shot fired in this showdown is the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the villainous tiger Shere Khan in ‘Jungle Book: Origins.’

For those keeping score at home, ‘Jungle Book: Origins’ is the version being developed by Warner Bros., with motion-capture genius Andy Serkis making his feature-film directorial debut. According to THR, Cumberbatch is the first person officially cast in the film.

Don’t confuse it with ‘The Jungle Book,’ which is being developed by Disney and director Jon Favreau, and already has a nearly complete cast that includes Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken and Giancarlo Esposito. Oh, and the great Idris Elba is playing this version’s Shere Khan. If you ever wondered who would prove to be the better evil tiger in a voiceover showdown between Cumberbatch and Elba, this is your grand opportunity to find out. Place your bets!

This is the second time Cumberbatch will voice a non-human villain (he played Smaug in Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit‘ movies) and the second time he’ll play a villain named Khan (he played, uh, Khan in ‘Star Trek Into Darkness‘). It will also be the second time he collaborates with Serkis, who worked as a second unit director on the ‘Hobbit’ films, in addition to his usual motion-capture duties.

Disney’s version is going to beat this one to the punch, arriving on October 9, 2015. ‘Jungle Book: Origins’ (ugh, that title!) will hit theaters on October 21, 2016. We hope you’re ready for two new takes on this material, America!

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