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Disney’s animated classic The Lion King is the latest movie to be reimagined as a live-action/CG project.
Disney is reteaming with Jon Favreau, the filmmaker who brought to life The Jungle Book, for a 21st century take on the tale, which Disney has fast-tracked to production, the studio announced.
“The Lion King builds on Disney’s success of reimagining its classics for a contemporary audience with films like Maleficent, Cinderella and The Jungle Book,” the company said on its website. “The upcoming Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson as Belle, is already one of the most anticipated movies of 2017. Like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King will include songs from the animated film.”
The new take won’t be live-action, per se, but will definitely look it. Favreau will build on what he accomplished with Jungle Book — using a real child actor and bringing to life the jungle and its animals via cutting-edge technology and a greenscreen set in a Los Angeles studio.
Lion King is considered one of the pinnacles of Disney’s animated movies, and animation in general. The 1994 movie was the culmination of the successful turnaround the studio undertook after spending much of the 1970s and 1980s in the doldrums.
Set on the African savannah, the story told of a young lion named Simba who is is cast out into the wilderness after his father, Mufasa, is killed by his evil uncle Scar. Years later, Simba returns to reclaim his throne.
For years The Lion King was the top-grossing animated movie of all time — $968.8 million worldwide, including $422.8 million domestically. It won Academy Awards for the original song Can You Feel the Love Tonight and original score. Its soundtrack has sold more than 14 million copies.
Disney also translated the movie for the stage, where the production surprised naysayers by winning six Tony Awards and has gone on to become one of Broadway’s biggest hits.
Purists may roar, but in light of Disney’s continued success with this strategy (there’s already a sequel in the works for Jungle Book given its almost $1 billion take at the box office), to them the studio says, “Hakuna matata.”
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival