One of the biggest blockbusters of the summer will undoubtedly be Disney’s remake of The Lion King. The movie will bring the animated classic to life using photorealistic visual effects, making the animals look just as they in the real world, but still letting them talk and sing just as they did in the original 1994 movie.
However, ever since the first trailer came out, fans have been wondering exactly how The Lion King remake will differentiate itself from the original movie. A lot of the footage in the trailers have been shots and moments taken directly from the original movie with a “live-action” makeover. So what makes this worth seeing? The answer to The Lion King comparison query lies somewhere between nostalgia and innovation.
On the set of The Lion King, /Film had the chance to speak with director Jon Favreau about his approach to retelling this classic tale, and he talked about the balance between calling back to the more memorable parts of the original movie while also revamping it to fit with this new storytelling aesthetic and style that is meant to feel more realistic in many ways. Favreau said:
“The more we looked at it, the more we challenged the story. There were certain things that needed addressing to make it feel more appropriate to this medium. But as far as the characters, the story, the themes, the music, we really felt that people were very connected to the original, and so hopefully if you are a fan of the original you’ll look at this and say, ‘Oh, I feel like I saw Lion King.’ Just like when you see the stage play, you still feel a connection to the animated film. But if you really look closely you’ll realize we’re actually taking a lot of liberties with it and we’re even changing things slightly with scenes and structure and the humor.”
That sounds like they’re trying to capture the spirit of the movie as opposed to just recreating everything with a new look. So how different will The Lion King remake actually be from the original? After all, we’ve seen sequences that feel like shot-for-shot recreations from the movie. But Favreau says that’s intentional, even if they’re not actually shot-for-shot updates:
“It depends how well you know it. How much did we change in [the] ‘Circle of Life’ [sequence from the D23 footage]? Some of you might say, ‘Oh, that’s shot for shot,’ but if we really look, it’s not. What you remember is going to be in the movie, let’s put it that way.”
Favreau also discussed how they determined what really needed to be included in the movie when it came to creating certain moments or sequences. Without rewatching the movie, they discussed what scenes they remembered and which of those were requirements when updating this story. But along with that, there are plenty of instances that have been changed, updated, made more humorous, etc. Favreau explained:
“I think part of it is just understanding the way memory works, and then what expectations are and then being able to do things like, ‘I think we can plus the humor here. I don’t think this joke holds up as well. I think we could change the characterization of this character to feel more consistent with the rest of the film, or more current and doesn’t feel like it’s something from a different era.’”
What does that mean for the musical sequences? We’re not really sure. But I’m betting those will likely be where the bigger changes take place. Honestly, I can’t imagine something like “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” playing out the same way as it does in the original movie. It’s a fantastical musical sequence with a plethora of other animals involved, and if they used the photorealistic animals to play it out, I feel like it wouldn’t work nearly as well. But we’ll find out when The Lion King opens this summer on July 19, 2019.
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