Jon Favreau to Direct a Live-Action Version of The Lion King

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At 49 years old, Jon Favreau has had a long and storied Hollywood career. He starred in classics like Rudy and Swingers (which he also wrote). As a director, he launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man and Iron Man 2. And earlier this year, he had a bonafide blockbuster with his live-action remake of Disney’s The Jungle Book. Now Favreau is tackling another beloved Disney classic: The Lion King.

Jon Favreau Plays Coy

On Wednesday morning, Favreau posted a few cryptic hints about his next project on social media:

That tweet could obviously mean a lot of different things. It did seem likely he was referring to The Lion King, though. So whatever his next project is going to be, it definitely has something to do with the 1994 Disney classic.

Walt Disney Makes it Official

Not long after, though, the Walt Disney Company officially confirmed that Favreau is directing a live-action remake of The Lion King. Here’s their full statement:

Disney and Jon Favreau Joining Forces on “The Lion King”

We can officially confirm that The Walt Disney Studios and director Jon Favreau are putting a new reimagining of The Lion King on the fast track to production. The project follows the technologically groundbreaking smash hit The Jungle Book, directed by Favreau, which debuted in April and has earned $965.8 million worldwide. 

The Lion King
Image Credit: Disney

The Lion King builds on Disney’s success of reimagining its classics for a contemporary audience with films like Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book. The upcoming Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson as Belle, is already one of the most anticipated movies of 2017. Like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King will include songs from the animated film. Disney and Favreau are also in development on a sequel to The Jungle Book. No release date has been announced for either film. 

The Lion King (1994) is one of the biggest animated films of all time with a lifetime global box office gross of $968.8 million, including $422.8 million domestically. It won Academy Awards for the original song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (Elton John, Tim Rice) and original score (Hans Zimmer), plus two Grammy Awards, with the soundtrack selling over 14 million copies.

In 1997, the stage production The Lion King made its Broadway debut, winning six Tony Awards; 19 years later, it remains one of Broadway’s biggest hits alongside several other productions running around the world, including London, Hamburg, Tokyo, Madrid, Mexico City, Shanghai, and North America. Translated into eight different languages, its 23 global productions have been seen by more than 85 million people across every continent except Antarctica. The Lion King’s worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history.

Why Mess With a Good Thing?

Given the success of Favreau’s Jungle Book remake, the news shouldn’t be that surprising. Nonetheless, it is a bit jarring to conceive of a live-action Lion King. The movie is not just a Disney classic. Many critics consider it to be the best animated motion picture of all time. Messing with it in any way, shape, or form is highly risky.

Disney certainly seems to have confidence in Favreau though. And indeed, it’s hard not to image how beautiful the sunlit African savannah could look in a live-action Lion King film.

What do you think? Are you excited for a live-action remake of The Lion King?

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