Disney is about to remake one of their all-time classics, but it looks like they waited until just the right time to do it. The studio has tapped Jon Favreau, who directed the live-action version of The Jungle Book for them this year, to take on a new version of The Lion King. This seems to fit right in with Disney’s recent strategy of doing live-action remakes of their most beloved properties, such as Cinderella, or the upcoming Beauty and the Beast.
Disney officially made the announcement on Wednesday, saying that the project is being put on the fast track to production. According to Disney, this new “reimagining” as they call it, will implement the same technology that was used to bring the animals and environments to life in The Jungle Book. The Lion King is one of the studio’s most beloved movies, so much so that unlike many other animated movies made by Disney, there has only been one attempt at a sequel which was direct-to-video. Up to this point, it has pretty much been viewed as sacred ground as far as the big screen is concerned.
Having Jon Favreau direct this new version of The Lion King makes absolutely perfect sense on paper. He has had a long-standing, excellent relationship with Disney thanks to Iron Man. Even though Disney didn’t own Marvel Studios at the time, the studio was built on the back of that movie, which led to Disney purchasing it. He has also served as an Executive Producer on many of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies since directing Iron Man 2 in 2010. But the main reason this makes so much sense is The Jungle Book. Given the insanely positive reception to that movie (which currently has a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), which was based on another very beloved classic, it seems difficult to imagine anyone else taking on the project.
While The Jungle Book was referred to as a live-action remake, for the most part, the vast majority of the movie was CGI, save for Neel Sethi who played Mowgli and a few bits of actual sets that were blended with the animation. So, it makes sense that Disney wouldn’t call this new version of The Lion King a live-action remake, because without any human characters, there will likely be no live-action elements to it, but it will likely utilize motion capture. Granted, if it is anything like The Jungle Book, it will very much look real, which makes this a very new style of filmmaking.
The Jungle Book is one of the most successful movies of 2016, having grossed $965 million on a $175 million budget. That perhaps makes The Lion King‘s box office take even more impressive. Released in 1994, The Lion King pulled in a staggering $968 million on a $45 million budget, making it one of the highest grossing animated movies of all-time, even when inflation isn’t taken into account. Disney did say that this new Lion King movie will be put on the fast track, but they did not give any word on a release date. They also stated that Jon Favreau is still attached to direct a sequel to The Jungle Book, which also does not have a release date.