Los Angeles - Sir Ben Kingsley has defended The Jungle Book amid claims it is too scary for children.
The 72-year-old actor voices big cat Bagheera opposite 12-year-old Neel Sethi as Mowgli in Jon Favreau's adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's book and Ben believes it is the perfect family movie which will show children that they can overcome adversity.
He said: "There are moments in the film which are tremendous gifts to children. Jon knows that when you are telling a story to a child you cannot eliminate the dark side, it's unfair.
"You are not preparing the child for the future, you are not telling that child anything if everything is sugar-coated in pink.
"It does get dark out there, the child will be challenged as a child as well as an adult and any child watching The Jungle Book safely with a parent will say 'That's me, I can do that and I can overcome terrific adversity', and I think that is an essential part of a child's story.''
Meanwhile, Ben and Neel were among the stars of the movie who walked the green carpet at the European Premiere at London's BFI Imax, where a live band played songs including Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You.
Although there have already been a number of movies, including Disney's 1967 cartoon, based on Kipling's book, Ben was careful not to call the latest film a remake.
Speaking exclusively to BANG Showbiz at the premiere, he said: ''Let's be careful about calling it a remake. What we are doing is making a film based upon a book by Rudyard Kipling called The Jungle Book and the book is the most important word in the title. He wrote this brilliant book over a 100 years ago and it's a wonderful interpretation of it again.''
And although this family-friendly flick is not yet out in the cinemas, there's already talk of a sequel.
When asked about the possibility of The Jungle Book 2, Ben added: "Oh good, good, say it louder haha."
And when BANG Showbiz asked if he would be back, he responded with a grin and a wink.
The Jungle Book, which is released on Friday, also stars Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito and Christopher Walken but they were absent from the premiere.
Watch the trailer here:
Catch The Jungle Book in cinemas nationwide on Friday, 15 April.
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