Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
Directed byStephen Sommers
Screenplay byStephen Sommers
Ronald Yanover
Mark Geldman
Story byRonald Yanover
Mark Geldman
Based onThe Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book
by Rudyard Kipling
Produced byEdward S. Feldman
Raju Patel
CinematographyJuan Ruiz Anchía
Edited byBob Ducsay
Music byBasil Poledouris
Vegahom Europe
Baloo Productions
Jungle Book Films[1]
Distributed byWalt Disney Pictures[2] (through Buena Vista Pictures Distribution; United States, United Kingdom, Benelux, Nordics)
MDP Worldwide
Release date
  • December 25, 1994 (1994-12-25)
Running time
111 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million[4]
Box office$70 million

Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, also known as The Jungle Book, is a 1994 American adventure film co-written and directed by Stephen Sommers, produced by Edward S. Feldman and Raju Patel, from a story by Ronald Yanover and Mark Geldman. It is a live-action adaptation of the Mowgli stories from The Jungle Book (1894) and The Second Jungle Book (1895) by Rudyard Kipling[5] unlike its counterparts, the animal characters in this film do not talk.

The film stars Jason Scott Lee, Cary Elwes, Lena Headey, Sam Neill, and John Cleese. Released on December 25, 1994, the film received generally positive reviews and grossed $70 million worldwide against a $30 million budget. It was distributed by Buena Vista, a subsidiary of Disney, but Disney had no hand in its production. In 2016, Disney produced and released its own live-action adaptation, The Jungle Book, which was more similar and faithful to both Disney's 1967 animated feature film and Kipling's book.


During the British rule in India, Mowgli is the five-year-old son of a widowed guide named Nathoo who is guiding an expedition in the jungle for fellow widower Colonel Geoffrey Brydon and his five-year-old daughter, Kitty. The group soon learns that Shere Khan the tiger is stalking them because fellow guide Buldeo and two other soldiers have been killing animals for sport which is against the jungle law. Shere Khan attacks the camp at night, killing two of the soldiers and Nathoo when the latter tries to fight him off to defend Buldeo, who ungratefully allows Nathoo to be killed.

In the chaos, Mowgli and his wolf cub, Grey Brother, are separated and presumed dead. Mowgli soon meets Bagheera the panther who leads him to the wolf pack and also befriends a bear cub named Baloo. Years later, a monkey steals a bracelet from Mowgli, which Kitty had given to him when they were children. Mowgli chases the monkey to an ancient city honoring Hanuman which hosts piles of treasure. He battles and subdues Kaa the snake and is given the bracelet back by King Louie.

Meanwhile, Kitty still resides in India with her father. She and Mowgli meet again but she does not recognize him, although he remembers her. It is only until Mowgli arrives in the village that Kitty recognizes him when she discovers he is wearing the bracelet she gave him in their childhood. Mowgli is pursued by Captain William Boone, Kitty's suitor. After a chase, he is caught by Buldeo, who discovers that Mowgli is in possession of a dagger from Monkey City. Boone and his men imprison Mowgli and attempt to find out where he got the dagger, torturing him in the process. Kitty informs her father that the prisoner is Mowgli, though Brydon remains skeptical; Kitty and Brydon's friend, Dr. Plumford attempt to reintroduce Mowgli to the world of man. Kitty and Mowgli find themselves falling in love, much to Boone's displeasure. Boone soon learns from Buldeo and his friend Tabaqui about the legendary lost city and he attempts to persuade Mowgli to show him the way, but Mowgli refuses, citing that Boone does not keep the jungle law by killing animals for fun.

Brydon later announces that Boone and Kitty are to be married. A heartbroken Mowgli returns to the jungle after Boone and his men treat him poorly; Kitty refuses to marry Boone following this, enabling Brydon to send her back to England. Boone, desperate to find the treasure, recruits fellow soldiers Wilkins and Harley and together they team up with Buldeo and Tabaqui. They attempt to capture Mowgli but fail and Baloo is shot while defending Mowgli.

The men later ambush Kitty and her father with the help of bandits, though the bandits are attacked by Bagheera and the wolves and Brydon is shot in the leg. The would-be treasure hunters hold Kitty and her father hostage as leverage for Mowgli to lead them to the treasure. At night, the group learn that Shere Khan has returned; Mowgli promises to protect Kitty and her father from him and escapes the next morning with Bagheera's aid. Harley gives chase, only to fall into quicksand and drown. The party continue their journey, Boone leaving behind a wounded Brydon, who is helped back to the village on an elephant courtesy of Mowgli. Later, Tabaqui decides that Mowgli is no longer needed and tries to murder him, only to be killed himself after falling from a cliff. As they near Monkey City, Wilkins becomes separated from the group and is mauled to death by Shere Khan. Inside the lost city, Buldeo attempts to shoot Mowgli but is entombed in a booby trap. Boone and Kitty make it to the treasure room, where Boone tries to kill Mowgli with a sword, though Mowgli injures him with a dagger and escapes with Kitty. Boone greedily gathers treasure for himself, however his victory is cut short when Kaa attacks and kills him.

Outside the ruins, Mowgli and Kitty are confronted by Shere Khan who roars ferociously at Mowgli. Mowgli roars back and Shere Khan sees him as a creature of the jungle, fulfilling a childhood dream of Mowgli's. Arriving back in the jungle, Mowgli and Kitty are delighted to find that both the life of Brydon and Baloo have been successfully saved by Dr. Plumford. Mowgli becomes lord of the jungle and begins a relationship with Kitty.


Trained animals

Kaa is portrayed by both a CGI and an animatronic python, as well as a trained green anaconda. Other trained animals include monkeys, Indian elephants, camels, horses, zebus, and wolves. The sounds used for the monkeys were actually those of chimpanzees[7] and siamangs. KNB FX Group crew member Shannon Shea doubled for Baloo in certain shots in an animatronic bear suit.



Raju Patel, an Indian producer, figured the 100th anniversary of Kipling's "Jungle Book" stories publication should be commemorated with a film adaptation.[4]

On June 7, 1993, The Walt Disney Company secured distribution rights for the film in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Nordics and Benelux, in exchange for providing half of the production budget and funding, estimated between $15 and 20 million.[2] In other countries, MDP Worldwide (Mark Damon's company) was the sales agent for the film rights.[8][9]

Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg saw the potential of adapting the animated classic and assigned Ronald Yonver and Mark Geldman to write the project. Dissatisfied with these scripts, one of which was 180 pages long with no dialogue for the first 70 pages, Katzenberg handed the project to Stephen Sommers after being satisfied with his work on The Adventures of Huck Finn. Sommers, who is a huge fan of the original animated film and various jungle adventure films, was eager to do a lush, romantic adventure and to show the beauty of the jungle. Executives were stunned by Sommers' decisions for the project as some were expecting an exact recreation of the original animated film and others wanted a teen romance to be the main focus.


Jason Scott Lee was Sommers' only choice for Mowgli. Disney executives labeled him as "too old" for the role until Sommers convinced them that he would be a much more believable leading man than an unknown teenager. Lee was also cast because the animals reacted to him the best. Sommers and his crew did try to cast actors in India, but due to Bollywood guidelines, their schedules and limits on the number of films they could work on restricted their involvement. However, they were able to cast Stefan Kalipha and Anirudh Agarwal before they agreed to any Bollywood productions. The casting of Cary Elwes as Captain William Boone, Lena Headey as Kitty Brydon, and Sam Neill as Colonel Geoffrey Brydon soon followed. Neill in particular found himself drawn to the role as he comes from a long line of family who served in the British Army during the Raj.[10] The role of Dr. Julius Plumford was always written for John Cleese but Sommers was discouraged that Cleese would never accept it. Cleese agreed to the role after he received the script and fell in love with it.[10] Jason Flemyng made his film debut with this film and his role grew after Sommers instantly bonded with him.


For the principal animal actors, a male black bear named Casey was chosen to play a role of Baloo,[11] a male panther named Shadow was chosen to play Bagheera, a purebred female wolf named Shannon was chosen to play Grey Brother,[11] a male tiger named Bombay was chosen to play Shere Khan, and a male orangutan named Lowell was chosen to play King Louie.[4] Lowell was the only animal to play his character all the way through and, according to Sommers, was the easiest and most entertaining animal to work with. Sommers did not want the animal characters to speak like in the animated film and had them perform with the actors and exhibit natural behavior as much as possible.[4] In total, 52 animals including tigers, leopards, bears, wolves, elephants, bulls, monkeys, and horses appear in the film.[11]


Filming in Jodhpur in India took eight weeks and included scenes with rhesus macaques and Asian elephants.[6] Indoor scenes like the lost treasure city set were shot on sound stages in Bombay.[4] The jungles in India did not have the exact rainforest look envisioned by the filmmakers, so the jungle scenes were mostly shot in Fripp Island, South Carolina (scenes featuring Bagheera and Shere Khan) as well as Ozone Falls State Natural Area and Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee (scenes featuring Baloo and the wolf pack).[12][6] Scenes featuring Lowell were shot in a Los Angeles studio against a blue screen due to the production not being able to bring him to India. One of the Asian elephants in the production was named Shirley, and she lived at Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta, Georgia.


While electronics dominated most of his work during the early 1990s, composer Basil Poledouris returned to his symphonic roots for his score to the film. Most European versions of Milan's official CD release include "Two Different Worlds", a pop song performed by Kenny Loggins.[13]

The Jungle Book (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by
Basil Poledouris
ReleasedDecember 13, 1994
LabelMilan Records
The Jungle Book (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
1."Main Titles/The Caravan"4:24
2."Shere Khan Attacks"4:49
4."Monkey City"4:41
6."Treasure Room"4:13
Total length:48:20


The film was released in theaters on December 25, 1994.

Home media

The film was released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment on VHS and LaserDisc on May 19, 1995. Disney also released the film on DVD on January 15, 2002.


Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an approval rating of 80% based on 44 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book may not hew as closely to the book as its title suggests, but it still offers an entertaining live-action take on a story best known in animated form."[14]

The film was well received, with praise for its performances, action, and visuals, but it was also chided for not staying true to Kipling's work, even though his name remains in the title. Most notably, Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times shared this sentiment. He said the film "has so little connection to Rudyard Kipling or his classic book that the title is beyond explanation."[15]

The sweet innocence of Kipling's fables about a boy who learns to live among the animals is replaced here by an "Indiana Jones" clone, an action thriller that Kipling would have viewed with astonishment.[15]

He goes on to say that it is a good film, awarding it three stars out of four, but it does not fit its target audience; some "scenes are unsuitable for small children, and the 'PG' rating is laughable."[15]

Brian Lowry of Variety said that "technically, Jungle Book is an encyclopedia of wonders, from the dazzling scenery (shot largely in Jodhpur, India), cinematography, costumes and sets, to the animals, who frequently out-emote their two-legged counterparts. Even so, Book may have been more effective had its story stayed on one page."[16] Rita Kempley from The Washington Post was more favorable, stating that "the narrative shifts from romance to adventure the way Cheetah used to hop from foot to foot, but Sommers nevertheless delivers a bully family picture."[17]

Box office

The film grossed $43.2 million in the United States and Canada.[18] Internationally it grossed $27.5 million[19] for a worldwide total of $70.7 million.


The film was nominated for Excellence in Media's 1994 Golden Angel Award for best motion picture.[1] It was also nominated for Best Action, Adventure or Thriller Film at the Saturn Awards.

Year-end lists

Video game

The film was adapted into a 1996 video game, which includes clips from the film, while providing an original story and new characters.[22] The game follows the player in his or her quest to save the jungle. Soldiers have stolen King Louie's crown and the player must recover it to prevent the jungle from losing its magic. The player is aided by a Scotsman named Ilgwom ("Mowgli" spelled backwards) and his chimpanzee Lahtee, while also guided by a spirit made from Mowgli's memories.


  1. ^ a b "Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book". Variety. Archived from the original on December 24, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Frook, John Evan (June 7, 1993). "Disney inks deal for new 'Jungle Book'". Variety. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  3. ^ "Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. January 18, 1995. Archived from the original on January 7, 2016. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e Moss, Robert F. (December 25, 1994). "FILM; Mowgli We Know, but Who Are Major Boone and Kitty?". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  5. ^ Nibley, Alexander (May 26, 1997). "Are Films Using Names in Vain?". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Bates, James (December 23, 1994). "Company Town: The Civilizing Force Behind Disney's New 'Jungle' Movie". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2010.
  7. ^ Fleishman, Rick (December 22, 1994). "'Jungle' Goes Back to Drawing Board". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2010.
  8. ^ Brennan, Judy (June 8, 1993). "Vision head Damon has new firm". Variety. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  9. ^ "Small Fish Feed On Big Hope At AFM". Variety. February 26, 1995. Retrieved August 25, 2022. In addition to well-known films that are repped by foreign sales companies, such as "Pulp Fiction", "Dumb and Dumber" and "The Madness of King George" some have forgotten that Capella has "Nobody's Fool" overseas and MDP controls much of the world on the live-action "Jungle Book".
  10. ^ a b "Production Information". The Sam Neill Home Page. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Willistein, Paul (December 24, 1994). "You don't tame them, you train them; making 'Jungle Book', animal handlers keep their instincts sharp". The Morning Call. Archived from the original on June 20, 2022. Retrieved June 19, 2022.
  12. ^ "Hollywood Loves the Lowcountry". South Carolina Lowcountry. November 11, 2020. Retrieved June 20, 2022.
  13. ^ "The Jungle Book [Original Soundtrack] – Basil Poledouris | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  14. ^ "Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on November 29, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2024.
  15. ^ a b c "The Jungle Book Review". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved November 1, 2022.
  16. ^ Lowry, Brian (December 18, 1994). "Review: 'Rudyard Kipling's the Jungle Book'". Variety. Archived from the original on April 25, 2016. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  17. ^ "Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book review". The Washington Post. December 25, 1994. Archived from the original on November 8, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  18. ^ "Box Office Mojo". Archived from the original on July 21, 2019. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  19. ^ Klady, Leonard (February 19, 1996). "B.O. with a vengeance: $9.1 billion worldwide". Variety. p. 1.
  20. ^ Pickle, Betsy (December 30, 1994). "Searching for the Top 10... Whenever They May Be". Knoxville News-Sentinel. p. 3.
  21. ^ Mills, Michael (December 30, 1994). "It's a Fact: 'Pulp Fiction' Year's Best". The Palm Beach Post (Final ed.). p. 7.
  22. ^ "Jungle Book (1996)". MobyGames. Retrieved June 20, 2022.