As the live-action remake of the highest-grossing 2D animation in history, bumper box office business was expected of The Lion King when it hit theaters last year. Jon Favreau’s retread certainly didn’t disappoint on that front, either, raking in over $1.6 billion globally to becoming the seventh biggest film of all-time.
The movie was a painstakingly faithful adaptation of the 1994 original, for better or worse. The Lion King was stunning to look at, no doubt, but the characters, plot, dialogue, score and songs had all been seen before and done much better, giving the end product a hollow feel. As a technical achievement it was incredible, but from a storytelling perspective, it left a lot to be desired.
A sequel was officially confirmed yesterday, with Moonlight‘s Barry Jenkins stepping in to replace Favreau, who will presumably be busy in a galaxy far, far away for the foreseeable future. Jenkins is an excellent director, of course, but tackling a project of this size marks a huge step up for a filmmaker with just three movies under his belt, the most expensive of which cost $12 million. For comparison, The Lion King‘s budget was $250 million.
Plot details remain under wraps for now, but insider Daniel Richtman claims that the pic will jump backwards and forwards in time, incorporating the origin stories of both Mufasa and Scar into the narrative. It’ll be interesting to see if James Earl Jones is brought back again, then, given that he’s 89 years old and very much sounds like it, and it would be bizarre to have a young Mufasa sport the booming voice of an elderly gentleman.
A time-hopping story essentially invites the entire cast to reprise their roles, though, and along with Aladdin 2, it appears that Disney are now intending to continue franchising their live-action remakes, with Alice and Wonderland and Maleficent the only others to get sequels so far.