Disney’s recent reboot of The Lion King surprised absolutely no one by dominating the box office this summer. Live-action remakes are basically printing money for the studio right now. However, not everyone is happy that classic films are being reimagined so often by those in charge. Several of the animators from the original Lion King are especially displeased by the 2019 flick. A few even say that they refuse to go watch the new movie in theaters.
David Stephan worked on the opening “Circle of Life” sequence back in 1992, as well as the design of the hyenas back in 1994 and had this to say in regards to the feature:
“If you polled the crew of the original Lion King, most of them would say, ‘Why? Did you really have to do that?’ It kind of hurts… It’s sort of sad that the stockholder is now in the room deciding what movies get made. … Disney’s now taken the cover off, and it’s now in your face: ‘Yeah, we just want to make money.’ That’s disappointing as an artist, from a studio that was founded on originality and art.”
Adding insult to injury is the fact that a lot of the reboot is filled with updated CGI recreations of scenes from the original. It definitely must be tough for these animators to see all their hard work get essential recycled without receiving compensation. One of the original co-writers of The Lion King already spoke out about not receiving a story credit for his key scenes that were recreated practically shot-for-shot in the remake.
Not all of the animators feel the same way as Stephan, though. Alexander Williams, who worked on the initial designs for Scar, said:
“I think some of my colleagues forget that when you work on a Disney movie, you don’t own it. They own it. You get paid to work there, which is a great privilege. It’s an amazing company. You get to work on this great stuff. But when you walk away, it’s their movie and they can do what they want with it. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s kind of none of my business whether they want to remake it or not.”
While the studio probably appreciates Williams’ support, it doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Disney isn’t going to stop making these live-action recreations. They already have an upcoming slate of planned features that include Mulan, The Little Mermaid, Lady and the Tramp, The Sword in the Stone and more. These flicks will continue to be made as long as they keep earning tons of money, regardless of what any former animators have to say.
The Lion King is currently playing in theaters worldwide.