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Even before folks saw what it was and the end result, there were plenty who had reservations about a remake of The Lion King. Today's audiences claim they're soured on re-imagining's of Disney classics to begin with, and the original animated movie definitely strikes a chord with audiences. It wouldn't be surprising if any director was less than thrilled to take on the challenge of re-adapting the story, but Jon Favreau was actually excited to make it.
Favreau, who has directed various few projects for Disney, Marvel and, more recently, Star Wars, was thrilled at the opportunity he had with The Lion King. Where others saw an uphill battle, Jon Favreau noted on the Blu-Ray director's commentary he spotted a chance to potentially change filmmaking for the foreseeable future. As he put it:
You’re taking an incredibly antiseptic digital medium and telling one of the most emotional stories that we have in our tradition using these tools. And to me, that dichotomy, that underlying tension, creates a lot of creative opportunity. And also it’s a high wire act so there’s a sense that we really have to give it our all because this is an experiment. It’s a big experiment overall. But I think that urgency and that sense of, if we do something really cool here we can be affecting the way people make movies moving forward is very exciting.
Now that The Lion King has completed its theatrical run and is on Blu-Ray and DVD as of tomorrow, there's a question on whether or not Jon Favreau changed filmmaking for the foreseeable future. The movie had its fair share of critics, both big and small, who felt the "antiseptic" style sucked the emotion right out of the movie. Response was certainly mixed, with even folks like Elton John coming out against the movie after seeing it.
On the other hand, the movie was a raging success commercially, and at the time of writing, it is the 7th highest grossing movie of all time on Box Office Mojo. If the stylistic choice was as big a problem for some as the critics who spoke out against it, the numbers certainly don't reflect it. So what's the real indicator of success: the reviews or the money?
It's probably the latter, especially with more original live-action tales like Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, which under-performed in its first week at the box office. Plus, Disney already has an adaptation of Lady and the Tramp that has a similar aesthetic, so it seems filmmaking is changed at least for adapted Disney classics for the foreseeable future.
The Lion King is now available to rent or own. Stick with CinemaBlend for more information on Disney movies both currently out and upcoming, and for the latest updates on what's happening in movies and television.