Welcome to The Jungle - Disney's Jungle Book Comes to Life

The invitation read something like this:

Come to a super secret, double-probation, if-you-tell-you're-in-trouble location at this time, on this day. You will get to hear Director Jon Favreau (!) and Visual Effects Supervisor Rob Legato as they talk about the making of their latest film, Disney's The Jungle Book. Also we will give you a sneak preview of portions of the film. In 3D!

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Disney's The Jungle Book

Who am I to resist such a delicious invitation? Okay. So technically, that's not exactly what it said, but it was sort of like that. I am obviously employing the use of dramatic embellishment to tell my own story. (Shut up. I know.)

I can tell you now that the Super-Secret-Double-Probation Event took place at Disney's El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. How apropos! 

We weren't told much as we arrived at the iconic theater early on a Wednesday morning. But we were given 3D glasses and a stern, "no photos" warning.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Photo courtesy of Disney

Well, I took photos outside of the theatre... (but that's not important right now.)

The view of the famous Hollywood sign from OUTSIDE the iconic El Capitan Theatre. photo:M.Darby

The view of the famous Hollywood sign from OUTSIDE the iconic El Capitan Theatre. photo:M.Darby

I couldn't think of a better place to preview this beautiful film than in the Disney El Capitan, located on Hollywood Blvd. (Have I said too much?)

Disney's El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. Photo: M.Darby

Disney's El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. Photo: M.Darby

Jon Favreau took the stage almost immediately and he was all charm and excitement and oozing creative energy. Yes. He oozed.

This new Jungle Book starts with the original story by Rudyard Kipling, which was made into an animated feature back in 1967 by Walt Disney. Favreau went on to tell us just how much he had been impacted by Disney's creative storytelling of the Kipling classic. 

Director Jon Favreau. Photo: courtesy of Disney

Director Jon Favreau. Photo: courtesy of Disney

Having directed 'Ironman' and 'Ironman 2,' Jon was very aware of all the magic that happen in a film with the added elements of CG (Computer Graphics) and green screens, while using all the tools available to him to create amazing characters and without forgoing environmental details. 

“When I think about Disney’s legacy, I relate to Walt’s original dream,” says director Jon Favreau. “Walt Disney’s work has influenced my work. He was considered high-tech for the time. He was the first person who locked soundtrack with picture, so the characters were perfectly choreographed to the musical score—something that absolutely blew people’s minds. Disney was on the cutting edge of technology.”

To honor Disney’s dedication to technology, filmmakers explored the best way to immerse audiences in the world they’d imagined in their version of the story. Says Favreau: 

“We asked ourselves, ‘How can we create a world? How can we use this technology, these storytelling tools to their fullest potential?’ Ideally, we wanted the audience to forget that it’s technology—they’ll just get transported.”

The Watering Hole from Disney's The Jungle Book. photo courtesy of Disney

The Watering Hole from Disney's The Jungle Book. photo courtesy of Disney

To achieve the special effects magic they were dreaming of, they assembled an amazing team of experts with 'Life of Pi,' 'Gravity,' and 'Avatar' under their belts. 

Visual effects supervisor Rob Legato boarded the project very early on to design a workflow, a system and VFX pipeline, employing the very latest iteration of movie magic, which would allow his director the freedom to push the limits of what’s possible in filmmaking.

Director Jon Favreau and Visual Effects Supervisor Rob Legato. Disney's Jungle Book. photo: courtesy of Disney

Director Jon Favreau and Visual Effects Supervisor Rob Legato. Disney's Jungle Book. photo: courtesy of Disney

“It’s a photo-real film grounded in the real world,” says Legato. “There's something very interesting about that.”

From what I got to see of the film, these storytellers have achieved their dream. The world they created is at once real, dangerous, yet absolutely magical. 

Neel Seth as Mowgli the Man Cub in Disney's The Jungle Book

Neel Seth as Mowgli the Man Cub in Disney's The Jungle Book

Also, I can think of no better storyteller than Jon Favreau to bring this stunning world to the big screen so beautifully while still honoring the Disney legacy.

“In our version, if you’re a Disney fan, you’ll notice attention to detail that honors the film’s legacy,” continues the director. “If you’re a kid seeing ‘The Jungle Book’ for the first time, you might forget to eat your popcorn. It’s going to be a really fun ride.”

Many strange tales are told of this Jungle. But none so strange as the tale of the cub we called Mowgli … ~ Bagheera

THE JUNGLE BOOK opens in theaters everywhere on April 15th, 2016.