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Following the massive success of Disney's live-action takes on The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, the studio is taking a swing at remaking their most beloved animated classic, The Lion King. Last month, we finally got a first look at the upcoming release... and it looks a lot like the original. It featured shot-for-shot recreations of the "Circle of Life" opening scene.
The first teaser certainly gives Disney fans the impression that The Lion King is going heavy on the nostalgia and taking little creative liberties... come on, they even used the exact recording of "Circle of Life"! However, per the production chief over at Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Sean Bailey, the new Lion King isn't an uninspired release. Here's what he recently told The Hollywood Reporter:
The Lion King is a revered and beloved movie, so you'd better revere and love those parts that the audience wants. But there are things in the movie that are going to be new. [And] it is a new form of filmmaking. Historical definitions don't work. It uses some techniques that would traditionally be called animation, and other techniques that would traditionally be called live action. It is an evolution of the technology Jon [Favreau] used in Jungle Book.
It is quite the bold move for Disney to take one of the films deemed perfect in many eyes. Striking a balance between paying tribute to the original and giving audiences something new to discover in the story and characters is key. However, if this something new is the cutting-edge realistic CGI technology, it might not be enough to convince fans that it was worth the revisit in the end.
Sean Bailey's answer seems to indicate that there will be a bit of a balance, but he also points out how he thinks the audience wants to see more of the old. Disney fans might find some comfort in seeing their favorite films being re-released in live-action, while others certainly don't just want to see a re-run of a film already sitting at home.
The greatest indicator of what to expect with The Lion King best points to 2016's The Jungle Book. Jon Favreau brought the Disney classic to life through new animation technology and it was a huge success. In turn, Favreau has come back to give The Lion King the same treatment. While Jungle Book was a much older classic for Disney, Favreau did change up some of the key elements of the story and retained some others.
The Lion King does have an impressive voice cast to work with, and they can bring some different shades to their characters and the musical numbers. The film did recently reveal that there is a new character, a little elephant shrew voiced by Amy Sedaris. So there is definitely room for The Lion King to be more than a more realistic reflection of the 1994 film when it comes to theaters on July 19, 2019.