The Lion King is coming back in full effect! It’s safe to say this film is a favorite among children and adults alike after hitting theaters in 1994. Now, the film is officially getting a live action version, after the success of other films like The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast. There was tons of rumors of whether this would happen or not, and now that it has been confirmed, only a few details have been released about the specifics, such as who will voice what characters, when it will hit theaters, and who will lend their directing skills. But for those who are wondering, this article is certainly a one stop shop for all the information that has been released thus far.
The Jungle Book brought in 965.8 million worldwide, so it’s not shocking at all that the director, as well as Walt Disney Studios, want to keep the momentum going with not only The Lion King but other Disney classics getting the live action makeover. It’s safe to say there is no way this film will not be a hit when the all-stars who have already signed on are taken into account. There are still many things that we don’t know, but there is more than enough information to confirm that this will actually happen and that’s all some people need. The original film tells the story of a young lion, Simba, who faces death, betrayal, and just all around danger on his journey to becoming king. Check out what we know so far about the live action remake:
15. The Release Date
The wait isn’t over for The Lion King live action film, but at least the countdown can begin now that the official release date has been revealed. Mark your calendars and set the date ladies and gentlemen. Lion King is going live on July 19, 2019, according to Harper’s Bazaar. That seems like forever from now, but at least the date means the now highly anticipated film is moving in the right direction. There were some fans who weren’t even sure if the film would really happen after months of rumors, speculation, and reports filled 2016. Now, it has not only been confirmed, but given a release date for the summer of 2019. It’s not clear if there’s a significance to the release date, but it does come after just over more than 25 years after the original animated version of the film hit theaters on June 15, 1994. *Sets countdown*
14. The Director
None other than Jon Favreau is leading this film, and rightfully so. He was the brains behind The Jungle Book, which was Disney’s latest animated film turned live-action and it was done incredibly well. In fact, it went over so well that a Jungle Book sequel is already in the works. Hey Favreau, just don’t let that interfere with the quality of The Lion King! Jeff Nathanson is also lending his writing skills to the film. Can’t. Wait. Meanwhile, Favreau has been taking to his social media pages to tease who will be playing some of the most major and highly anticipated roles. He posted a snapshot of the new Simba with the caption, “Can’t wait to be king.” I’m not a director or film expert, but it’s good to know Favreau can recognize the nostalgia that The Lion King brings and that this remake has to be done right or people will say it shouldn’t be done at all.
13. James Earl Jones IS Mufasa
That’s right! If you’ve been paying attention, and even if you haven’t, James Earl Jones has landed the role of Mufasa. I have to say, this is only right considering he voiced the original Mufasa. No one could live up to that pressure. He was one of the first voices to be announced for the film that everyone is talking about. But he definitely added some level of validation considering his celebrity status. This was hardcore proof that the live remake will be nothing to scoff at in the summer of 2019. It’s safe to say that Jones’ voice on The Lion King was a crowd favorite. Another iconic role he played was Darth Vader. But Jones has been no stranger to the artistry of acting of course. He is even slated to win a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tony Awards this year. He will certainly be a major treat in The Lion King!
12. Childish Gambino Is Simba
There isn’t too much that’s known about who will be voicing the iconic characters yet, but here’s a slight breakdown of what we do know: Atlanta star Donald Glover — who is also a recording artist by the name Childish Gambino — is going to be the voice of the one and only Simba. This is an incredible move for Glover as he continues to advance in his career. He’s certainly on the right path to becoming a household name. There’s no doubt that he’ll hit that mark after starring as the iconic young lion in the Disney classic. Not much has been said about Glover taking on the iconic role, but it’s safe to say director Jon Favreau is a fan of him. Even if he wasn’t, his son is. Favreau once admitted to Glover during a panel event, “By the way, full disclosure: I see your face every day when I wake up my 15-year-old son because on his door is a portrait of you.”
11. Beyonce Is Up For Nala…
Could you imagine Queen Bey lending her voice for audience favorite, Nala? Now, I’m a huge fan of the artist who has clearly made it known she is a triple threat, but I’m not confident she can pull off the role as Nala. Still, she’s in talks for it. It hasn’t been confirmed just yet if she will sign on for the role that is arguably very coveted in Hollywood right now, but there are conversations about it. In fact, word is Favreau has Beyonce at the top of his list of choices to play the sassy lioness and doesn’t even want Beyonce’s current pregnancy (with twins no less) to interfere. If it goes through, I think it’s safe to assume that Beyonce will certainly get the royal treatment. But hey, the queen wants what she wants. It would undoubtedly be a good look for her as well considering the other stars who have already signed on to the film.
10. …And So Is Zendaya Coleman?
Beyonce might not be a sho0-in for Nala, even though many think that she makes sense. Rumor has it Zendaya Coleman is also in talks of signing on as Nala. If it were up to me, which clearly it isn’t at all, I think Coleman’s voice is more similar to the younger Nala while Beyonce could definitely rule as the older version, no shade intended. The buzz about Coleman is certainly not as high as Beyonce, but some think Coleman confirmed her possible role when she held up her dog the way Simba was held up in the original film. She captioned it, “Nonny King,” with a crying laughing Emoji. While this might have been a joke, thanks to the past of social media, it wouldn’t be surprising if this was Coleman’s way of putting her name in the hat. Only time will tell if it will be Coleman, Beyonce, or another actress who’s being considered for the part.
9. Will Timon And Pumbaa Please Stand Up?
I have to say the casting of Timon and Pumbaa was pure genius. Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen are the latest to join The Lion King live-action remake and take on the roles as the warthog and little ferret thingy that helped Simba with the major transition from boy to man (remember the amazing scene during “Hakuna Matata” when Simba literally grew before our eyes?). Of course this was not without tons of comedic relief that came just in time as Simba met the dynamic duo just after the death of his father, Mufasa. Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella were the two who originally made the lovable Timon and Pumbaa come alive in the Disney 1994 film, but I think it’s safe to say that Eichner and Rogen will do it justice. The two have already worked together for Billy on the Street so their chemistry is inevitable. Now we just have to wait to see it play out in this capacity.
8. The Original Music Is Featured
One of the things that made The Lion King such a fun and nostalgic movie is the hit tunes that we enjoyed throughout the entire thing. From the opening of “Circle of Life” to the follow-up “I Just Can’t Wait to be King,” all the way through Simba and Nala’s iconic reunion in “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” the movie has more than enough catchy songs to keep the fingers snapping and feet tapping. It looks like the same will hold true for the action version! It has already been confirmed that music will be in the film, but to what capacity is still a mystery. Still, there’s no way the movie could work without music, so at least the brains behind it have noticed that. But could it feature music from the original? Rumor has it that it will. Jon Favreau, we like the direction this is going in already.
7. The Pressures
Of course it looks like Jon Favreau is already on the right track, but even the mastermind had to admit there are certain pressures to making this film a success. Aside from everyone waiting for it, and expecting a certain level of excellence and quality, Favreau recently opened up about the pressure he feels when it comes to making sure everything comes together in the best way possible. “When you’re directing, you have to love [what you’re making]. You have to love it tot he point of obsession,” he told Scarlett Johansson at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 21. “I have to live, breathe, sleep it, dream it. If I’m going to do my best work, I need to be completely immersed.” Well I like the idea of Favreau being “completely immersed” and devoted to this one. He would have to be for it not to disappoint the fans who have been waiting years for it.
6. It’s Not The Only One Of Its Kind
While we are ecstatic about The Lion King, it’s safe to say it came after the success of other animated films like Tarzan and The Jungle Book. But Disney clearly isn’t stopping with The Lion King. It comes on the heels of the live version of Beauty and the Beast, which received mixed reviews, as well as Aladdin, Toy Story 4, Maleficent 2, Cars 3, and Mary Poppins Returns, which are just some of the films that are set to go live on the big screen later this year and well into 2020. Disney is certainly ready to raise its stakes within the next couple of years. Even Frozen, Indiana Jones 5, and Wreck it Ralph 2 are said to be going live sooner than later. Even though The Lion King just seems like one in a handful of others who are set to undergo the same transformation, it’s safe to say the level of anticipation is much different for this one than the others.
5. The Special Effects are Going to Be LIT
The Lion King is clearly not the first or last of its kind. But special effects master Rob Legato said what we saw in The Jungle Book is nothing compared to whats in store for Simba, Nala, Mufasa and more in The Lion King live action movie. His exact words were, “This is so outdated from what we are doing on the next movie.” He didn’t mention The Lion King by name, but reports say he was definitely referring to this movie considering he and Favreau are teaming up once again. He also added, “The ability to re-create anything and re-create it faithfully is the future of cinema. You shouldn’t be aware that we were using a computer to make the movie. You have to treat it like a camera, and do no more… or it distracts you from the story. I don’t want to make a visual effects extravaganza, I want to make a movie.”
4. Some Fans Of The Lion King Aren’t Here For It
It’s clear that Favreau and everyone involved in the film are making the right choices when it comes to all of the small and major details of The Lion King. But some fans don’t care because they don’t want the film to be created to begin with. Some have expressed on social media that they want to keep The Lion King the way they remember it. After all, it’s a classic that might not be able to be duplicated. Of course for some people, Favreau and his team could do all the right things and it still wouldn’t be enough. For now, no one has gone as far as making a petition on change.org (don’t get any ideas), but they have been pretty vocal in not wanting the film to happen. Of course, no one has a strong enough voice in this case to stop the film. But the director could be taking suggestions considering many of the details have yet to be ironed out.
3. Fans Already Love The Lion King Remakes
Despite the very minimal backlash of The Lion King live action film, fans have already been loving the other remakes from The Lion King, from the sequel all the way to the most recent remake in the form of the stage musical. The show broke the box office record back in 2014 when it reached more than $6.2 billion in sales. It edged out The Phantom of the Opera that brought in $6 billion total at one point. To put this in perspective, this made the entire The Lion King musical beat out other successful juggernaut shows and movies such as Titanic, Star Wars, and the entire Harry Potter franchise along with Avatar that sold just under $2.8 billion around the globe. Oh yeah, things like merchandise, CDs, posters, other materials, and even money made from the film weren’t even taken into account as the number only includes ticket sales. So there’s definitely still a lot of buzz for The Lion King!
2. Success Is Inevitable
Even though some people don’t want The Lion King live action film to see the light of day, there are many more who do. It’s not clear what the actual statistics are, but considering the success of The Lion King brand thus far, no one is even close to being over it. While the success of the musical show has been outlined above, the box office is nothing to scoff at either. The original film that was released in 1994 brought in just under a billion dollars worldwide. Keep in mind this was way long before the days of social media and unique marketing tools. It won two out of four Academy Awards that it was nominated for back in 1994 as well. Here’s a throwback for you: Jonathan Taylor Thomas was the voice of young Simba while Matthew Broderick voiced the older version. Moira Kelly, Rowan Atkinson, and Whoopi Goldberg also lent their voices for the all-star film.
1. Other Iconic Characters Returning
While we know who is going to voice Simba, Mufasa, Timon, Pumbaa and possibly Nala, the other leads of the movie have yet to be revealed, but we do know they are returning. We’re waiting on pins and needles for who will be the voice of Scar, the Hyenas (maybe Whoopi Goldberg will make a comeback like James Earl Jones did) as well as even the bird kids loved to hate, Zazu. As for the original, it was Rowan Atkinson who was Zazu, Goldberg as one of the hyenas, Robert Guillaume as Rafiki and Madge Sinclair who played the amazing, strong, and now that I think of it very underrated matriarch of Pride Rock, Simba’s mom and Mufasa’s wife, Sarabi. It will be interesting to see who Favreau casts as these leads and if any of the other voices will be heard. We’ll have to keep our eye on the news as it’s released!