Here's Why The New 'Jungle Book' Isn't A Musical

Disney's new live action/computer animated hybrid Jungle Book movie is unlike anything audiences have ever seen before — despite being a reboot of a nearly 50-year-old film. The story it presents may be familiar, but it's told in a new way with striking and beautiful visuals. The structure is also different from the original animated classic, because unlike that film, the new Jungle Book is not a musical, and has a somewhat more serious tone. This seems like a bit of a curious choice given how beloved the songs, penned by legendary songwriters the Sherman Brothers, of the original film are. So why isn't the new film a musical?

During a recent Twitter Q&A, a fan asked director Jon Favreau about the amount of music in the film, and Favreau implied that the music had to be limited in order to keep with the action/adventure tone of the new movie, but conceded that he still wanted to include some tunes for the fans as a way to connect to the original film. "We wanted to include enough music to satisfy people who grew up w 67 film but not make it a musical or betray action tone," he said. In answering a separate question, he also seems to indicate that matching the feeling of the original Rudyard Kipling stories that the 1967 movie was based on was also a factor, since those stories were not musical in nature and had the action/adventure tone that Favreau was aiming for. "The challenge was to find the proper tone to combine Kipling with 67 #JungleBook," Favreau wrote. "Figuring out how to incorporate music."

You should know, however, that while the film is not a musical in the sense that the original was, there are still some songs included. "The Bare Necessities" is there, sung this time by Bill Murray as Baloo. Also included is the King Louie classic "I Wanna Be Like You", performed by Christopher Walken in the role. In an attempt to make the animals geographically accurate to India, King Louie is no longer an orangutan in the new film, but is instead a gigantopithecus, an extinct giant ape that once roamed the region. Because of this, Favreau tapped original songwriter Richard M. Sherman to pen some new lyrics for the track that highlighted this, which the 87-year-old songsmith happily did, according to Scott Huver at People.

So even though the new movie eschews big musical numbers in favor of a PG-rated action/adventure tone, fans of the original animated Jungle Book can still look forward to hearing a couple of their old favorite songs. In other words, when it comes to music for the new Jungle Book movie, Favreau stuck to the bare necessities.

Images: Walt Disney Pictures