Disney revealed its first look at Jon Favreau’s upcoming live-action adaptation of The Lion King during the biennial D23 expo today. We have a breakdown of what the footage showed, although don’t expect the studio to bring it online anytime soon.
The clip, which Favreau said was prepared specifically for D23, recreated the famous “Circle of Life” opening scene from The Lion King, in full, photo-realistic CGI — practically shot-for-shot. Rafiki, baby Simba and Pride Rock were all presented in their “realistic” glory. For those who have seen Favreau’s The Jungle Book, the detail paid attention to the CGI-animals will be familiar.
The visuals in what we saw were astounding. They were breathtakingly beautiful, and that’s not an exaggeration. There was a moment where baby Simba sneezes and his entire body shakes that’s both adorable and extremely realistic.
Disney first announced it would be working on a live-action Lion King movie in 2016. It’s the next installment in Disney’s mission to turn many of its animated classic films into live-action adaptations. Disney has found success with other, similar projects, like Favreau’s The Jungle Book and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
In April, Favreau spoke at the Tribeca Film Festival about the movie and the pressure he felt going into it. The Lion King was one of the first movies that kids were able to watch over and over again thanks to VHS, he explained. It’s because of that obsession that he wanted to get it right.
“The Lion King, people really know it and they grew up with it,” Favreau said in April. “They have an emotional impact. I think memory is like a compression software; you can't remember everything so you prioritize what's important.
“I think, ‘What do I remember about The Lion King? What do I remember about The Jungle Book? I remember Mowgli and the snake; the snake's eyes; Baloo and the river. Those are the images we definitely need in there [the new live-action movie]. Then you look back at it and you realize here's things you don't remember, which you can explore a little more.”
The Lion King is scheduled to be released in 2019. Donald Glover will voice Simba, while James Earl Jones will return to reprise his role as Mufasa.