The Jungle Book 2

Release Date: February 14, 2003

Careful, Baloo looks hungry.

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After the tremendous financial successes of The Tigger Movie and Return to Neverland, both of which were initially intended as direct-to-video releases rather than theatrical films, Disney has been quietly preparing two additional franchise sequel films that should hit the big screen sometime in 2003. Piglet's Big Movie will hope to capitalize on the Winnie the Pooh crowd that loved Tigger so much, while The Jungle Book 2 has already been slated for that same February release slot that seems to have worked so well for the first two movies of this type.

According to Variety, both films are being produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, which has been one of the company's most profitable divisions over the past several years thanks to the low costs of creating direct-to-video sequels such as Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, and The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, along with the aforementioned successful theatrical releases.

These films have miniscule budgets in comparison to Disney's more full-scale productions such as Lilo and Stitch or Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Most of the Television Animation unit's projects cost between $8-15 million to produce, and have more than earned their keep before they even take in worldwide receipts or video sales and rentals. Comparatively, Atlantis was budgeted at $90 million and Emperor's New Groove at a lofty $100 million, which means neither film really even started to show a profit until they were available on video.

So, along comes The Jungle Book 2 as Walt Disney Television Animation's next big cash cow. Interestingly enough, this newest foray into franchise sequels will feature substantially bigger voice talent than either The Tigger Movie or Return to Neverland. Both Haley Joel Osment and John Goodman will have voice credits in previous Disney films at that point, with Goodman having wonderfully portrayed Sully in Monsters, Inc., while Osment provides the voice of Beary Barrinson in the Country Bears. They'll take on the two primary roles of Mowgli and Baloo for The Jungle Book 2, and the casting admittedly feels very appropriate.

According to a leaflet that can be found in Atlantis videos, the tale starts with Mowgli living in his new village, but yearning for his "wilder" days back in the jungle with his best friend Baloo. After he sneaks away from the village, his worried girlfriend tries to find him, and the villainous tiger Sher Khan tries to exact some revenge. The friends, of course, will work together to triumph over their longtime foe.

Expect almost all of the other original characters to make appearances, including Kaa the snake, King Louie the orangutan, Bagheera the panther, and even the vultures. Additionally, many of the songs that made the first film such a joy will be reprised, with Bare Necessities and Trust in Me being slated for inclusion (count me as bitter that Louie's Wanna Be Like You doesn't appear to be on the list).

Expect the marketing campaign to closely mirror that of Return to Neverland, since that film was also a sequel to a well-loved Disney classic. Even with a relatively soft box-office performance, the Mouse House will likely make a tidy little profit, ensuring the continued prosperity of the Television Animation division. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Jungle Book 2
Main Cast Haley Joel Osment, John Goodman
Supporting Cast Phil Collins, John Rhys-Davies
Director Steve Trenbirth
Screenwriter Carter Crocker, Karl Geurs
Distributor Walt Disney Pictures
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating G
Running Time 72 minutes
Screen Count 2,808
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for The Jungle Book 2
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Atlantis: The Lost Empire 6/15/0120.34 21.70 3011 6756.00 6935.4 84.04 89.69 4.13
Return To Neverland 2/15/0215.62 16.24 2605 5997.00 5997.0 48.41 50.33 3.10
Emperor's New Groove, The 12/15/009.81 10.97 2801 3502.00 3768.4 88.76 99.29 9.04
Tigger Movie, The 2/11/009.43 10.54 2723 3463.00 3726.4 45.54 50.94 4.83
Pokemon 3 4/6/018.24 8.79 2675 3080.00 3161.8 17.05 18.19 2.07
Fantasia (re-issue) 10/5/905.20 7.43 461 11280.00 15503.3 24.79 35.42 4.77
Fantasia 2000 6/16/002.91 3.25 1313 2216.00 2384.6 58.33 65.25 3.02



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