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Mufasa and Simba in The Lion King (2019)

Disney has been going all in when it comes to remakes of its animated classics, having already revamped iconic films like Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Aladdin. One of the studios most recent live-action remakes was 2019’s The Lion King, which was helmed by Iron Man and The Jungle Book’s Jon Favreau. The film proved to be a box office hit and, now the studio has officially greenlit a follow-up with the perfect director at the helm.

Walt Disney Studios has tapped Barry Jenkins to direct a follow-up to The Lion King. The film’s screenplay will be handled by returning scribe Jeff Nathanson and, according to Deadline, he’s already completed an initial draft of the script. It’s also been confirmed that the film will continue with its predecessor’s method of using photo-realistic technology.

Story details are being kept tightly under wraps, though the trade reports that the story will further the mythology of the characters by diving into the origins of the late Mufasa. Despite continuing the franchise, Disney has specified that this film will be more of a follow-up as opposed to a direct sequel. Fans of the franchise likely know that the original animated film spawned two additional films – The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride and The Lion King 1 ½ . Since the film won't be a sequel, it likely won't draw too much inspiration from Simba's Pride, but it could still utilize the time-bending elements of The Lion King 1 ½.

As of right now, a release date for the film has not been announced, but Deadline states that the film is a priority for the studio following the success of the original. Favreau’s film earned $1.6 billion globally at the box office. With this in mind, one can understand the desire to put out a follow-up as soon as possible.

But the best surprise in this news has to be the hiring of Barry Jenkins. The 40-year-old filmmaker has managed to make a serious impression on cinema over the last few years. The director originally entered the scene with his 2008 film Medicine for Melancholy before going on to direct the critically acclaimed drama Moonlight, which earned the Oscar for Best Picture, won Mahershala Ali Best Supporting Actor and scored Jenkins an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Jenkins also earned rave reviews for his big-screen adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, which led to a Best Supporting Actress win for Regina King.

The follow-up to The Lion King will mark the first time that Jenkins has worked on an effects-heavy film. Despite this, the filmmaker has more than proven to be a skilled storyteller, and his prowess should still shine through as he tackles the beloved characters from Pride Rock.

But what do you want to see in the sequel to The Lion King? Let us know in the comments!

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