LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Benedict Cumberbatch has come on board Warner Bros.' live-action version of "Jungle Book: Origins" as the voice of the villainous tiger Shere Khan.
The studio recently dated "Jungle Book: Origins" for Oct. 21, 2016 -- a year and a week after Disney's rival project opens.
Andy Serkis will direct along with producing with "Harry Potter" scribe Steve Kloves and Jonathan Cavendish, Serkis' partner at his London-based production company The Imaginarium. Callie Kloves wrote the adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling stories about a young boy raised by wolves.
Disney's own "Jungle Book" opens Oct. 9, 2015, with Jon Favreau directing and Idris Elba voicing the evil tiger. Kipling's original stories were published in 1894 and are in the public domain.
The casting of Cumberbatch is the first for "Jungle Book: Origins." It is the first feature directing gig for Serkis, although the actor was a second unit director on two of Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" movies, including the barrel chase scene in "The Desolation of Smaug."
Cumberbatch appeared with Serkis in the "Hobbit" movies as the voice of the dragon Smaug. He will be seen next as Alan Turing in "The Imitation Game," the drama premiering at next month's Toronto International Film Festival.
Cumberbatch is repped by UTA and UK's Conway van Gelder Grant.
The news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.