The Lion King is here and already making box office roars… and it’s the Mufasa kind. Moviegoers are flocking to relive one of Disney’s most beloved films, along with one of cinema’s most memorably heartbreaking scenes. You know the one… much because it gets us every time, and to some (where my ‘90s kids at?) it may have been our first introduction to death.
In the three years the photo-realistic Lion King remake has been in development, director Jon Favreau has looked over the pridelands-set reimagining tirelessly, including the most devastating scene between Mufasa and Simba. Is he still affected by the scene after helming the summer blockbuster? Here’s what he told CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg:
Jon Favreau’s thoughts certainly show the powerful impact the classic death scene can have on people, since he found himself affected by it after being part of the meticulous orchestration of recrafting the scene, along with reimagining the rest of the 1994 original in cutting-edge CGI animation. Here are his words:
It's an emotional ride every time. Especially when -- each iteration of it, when you see the delicacy with which the animators brought life to the animals, and using the language of how an animal would react to that situation, but how human it still feels. So you keep watching it. You first watch it in pencil, then you watch it with sort of crude game-engine animation, and then eventually in renders and in lighting, and then Hans Zimmer scores it. And every time you see it, it's emotionally impactful.
Amazing! I believe it. It would be interesting to see if the emotional gut-punch of a scene is as effective without Hans Zimmer’s masterful score, because wow does his music in this movie make us feel… everything. Jon Favreau watched the scene progress from pencil drawings to visually realistic scenes in Lion King, which was also shot in virtual reality to cater to the 3D experience. He continued:
And then different scenes impact you at different times. Sometimes it's the happy scenes, when he's playing with his father and looking up at the stars. What's astounding to me is that you don't ever get used to it. And then just seeing it at the premiere and being surrounded by people and feeling that energy, I found myself really welling up. It's a very powerful piece and hopefully we've been able to communicate that in our version of it as well.
The director previously admitted to being nervous at the Los Angeles world premiere since he had not screened it to audiences before that night with all the cast in attendance. He was suddenly worried they wouldn’t like it and said his fingers were digging into his wife’s wrist until Timon and Pumbaa put him at ease.
The film has inspired middle of the road reviews from critics as The Lion King has a Rotten Tomato Score of 55%, about half as much as the original’s 93%. Audiences on the other hand have given it love with a score of 89%, just a couple points away from the animated film’s 93%. The movie has already scored $270 million worldwide and could very well hit $500 million by the end of the weekend.
The stampede scene between Mufasa and Simba is still very much intact, as is most of the original film (including shot recreations and recycled lines), but check out these 8 big differences between the 1994 and 2019 versions.
What did you think of the new Lion King? Did you bawl your eyes out all over again at Mufasa’s death? Sound off in the comments below.