We’ve all heard the news. The utterly epic Benedict Cumberbatch is going to voice Shere Khan in the prequel to Disney’s classic The Jungle Book, but do you have any idea why this animated film is so special to the filmmaking arm of the Walt Disney Corporation? It’s the last film that Walt Disney himself worked on, but he wasn’t able to finish it before leaving the company. As a result, Disney really, really needed the film to succeed in order to prove that it could survive without Walt – not just to prove it to the world but to prove it to themselves.

Walt retired for several reasons, but it was really his increasingly poor health that left him no choice but to take it easy. In 1966, lung cancer robbed the World of Walt and his creativity, and shortly after he passed, Walt Disney Studios wrapped up production of The Jungle Book to release it in 1967.

Thankfully, lung cancer couldn’t stop Walt from leaving his legacy intact. The financial and critical success of The Jungle Book ensured the immortality of the film, and thus, Walt Disney Studios was ready to survive in a post-Walt world. Know more.