New Lion King Video Reveals How Stunning CGI Made Pride Rock

photo-realistic baby Simba in Jon Favreau's The Lion King
(Image credit: (Disney))

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Aside from Avengers: Endgame, Jon Favreau’s remake of Disney’s The Lion King was 2019’s biggest box office hit. Although it was often described as a “live-action” movie, it was an incredible feat of revolutionary animation filmmaking. With the exception of only one shot, the entirety of Pride Rock and all the animals of the African Savanna were created digitally from scratch. Take a look at this stunning VFX breakdown:

Wow! This video certainly gives us an idea of how much work went into recreating the classic cartoon into a photo-realistic film that looks to be straight from National Geographic. The Lion King visual effects team had many layers to introduce into the animation to present audiences with a genuine experience of being with Simba and the other iconic Disney characters.

It’s simply amazing all the detail that is involved. Visual effects artists are responsible for placing everything in, from the shrubbery to the dust that brushes into young Simba’s eyes as the stampede of wildebeests race beside him. The video also shows how the artists behind The Lion King actually animate skeletons and muscles, along with the fur on the beloved characters.

MPC Film is an Academy Award-winning VFX studio with outposts across the globe that has been part of many productions, including Sam Mendes’ Best Picture contender 1917, Shazam! and Disney’s live-action Dumbo. For The Lion King, 1250 of their artists in Los Angeles, London and Bangalore worked on the project.

The Lion King also used virtual reality technology to allow Jon Favreau and the other filmmakers interact with the world of Pride Rock and “scout locations” to film scenes. Since Favreau is used to shooting live-action films such as Iron Man, he adopted the technique to be able to explore the material more.

Additionally, some of the cast did their voice overs on “stages” where they could interact with one another and the filmmakers could record their appearances. It allowed The Lion King to be more advanced than the typical animated project where actors read scripts in booths.

The Lion King was made on a massive budget that surpassed the $175 million it took Jon Favreau to remake The Jungle Book with photorealistic-animation. The movie was a massive success, scoring $1.657 billion globally and becoming the highest-grossing animated movie of all time.

The Lion King was recently added to stream on Disney+ this past week (the streaming service is offering a seven-day free trial). The studio is gearing up for another remake in Niki Caro’s Mulan this March, although this version will not remain as close to the original as The Lion King was. Also on the way is a 101 Dalmatians spinoff with Cruella, and a live-action Little Mermaid from director Rob Marshall.

Check out what titles Disney+ is adding in February!

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.