'Lion King' Footage Features New Character Voices for First Time

The Lion King Still - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Disney

New footage from Jon Favreau's The Lion King, the photoreal computer-animated remake of Disney's 1994 animated classic set to open July 19, debuted Wednesday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, giving a glimpse of the animal characters speaking for the first time. 

In the exclusive clip shown to audience members, a young Simba urges his dad to wake up and go out. While sitting on a rock, Mufasa (James Earl Jones) informs his son that someday "sun will set on my time and rise to you as the new king ... it's yours to protect — a great responsibility." He is then shown advising Simba that "we are all connected in the great circle of life." The character Zazu (John Oliver) also made an appearance in the footage. 

The all-star voice cast for the upcoming film also includes Beyonce, Seth Rogen, Keegan-Michael Key, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Alfre Woodard. 

"We think what Jon and his team have pulled off is just incredible," said Walt Disney Motion Picture Group president Sean Bailey of the film. 

The Lion King is being made using the latest "virtual production" techniques, meaning that it incorporates live-action production techniques, although the final film will be CG.

During the 2017 NAB Show, VFX supervisor Rob Legato (who won Oscars for Favreau's The Jungle Book, as well as Hugo and Titanic), reported, "We are going to use a lot of virtual reality tools so it feels akin to what you are looking at [if you were on a real set]. You can walk around the set like a cameraman. [Wearing VR headsets] the actors can now walk into a scene and see the other actors and trees ... and because you are in 3D, you get a realistic sense [of the environment]."

Six-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel is Lion King's director of photography, and Jungle Book's Oscar-winning VFX house MPC is handling the effects.

Bailey, whose group is currently in theaters with Dumbo, also shared new footage from upcoming Aladdin and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

“We are never simply retelling. We ask ourselves how do we take these timeless stories and expand and update them to make them relevant for the times," he said.

In the clip from Aladdin, Guy Ritchie's remake of the 1992 animated classic that is set to open May 24, Aladdin (Meno Massoud) finds the magic lamp and meets Will Smith's Genie, who sings "Friend Like Me" in a VFX-laden production number. A montage of footage from the film followed.

The Maleficent sequel, which is set to bow Oct. 18, also had some new footage at CinemaCon. Angelina Jolie's title character and Elle Fanning's Princess Aurora meet Queen Ingrith, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.

April 3, 9 p.m. A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Bailey. THR regrets the error.