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The Lion King 2 is happening with the director of Moonlight

Barry Jenkins will direct the photorealistic follow-up

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala and Donald Glover as Simba in The Lion King (2019) Image: Walt Disney Pictures
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

Walt Disney Pictures’ live-action-mimicking (but don’t call it animated) take on The Lion King let out more of a whimper than roar. But Jon Favreau’s 2019 remake also made $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office. So in true spirit to the circle of life, a sequel is on its way.

Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins confirmed on Tuesday he will take over for Favreau on the unsubtitled Lion King 2. Jeff Nathanson, who wrote the remake, has already completed a script for the second chapter, which reportedly dips into the backstories of the characters.

A source tells Polygon that Disney sees the movie as more of a “follow-up” than a sequel, since it will explore the origin story of Mufasa. The film is expected to feature new songs sung by animated lions that look like real lions.

“Helping my sister raise two young boys during the ’90s, I grew up with these characters,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Having the opportunity to work with Disney on expanding this magnificent tale of friendship, love and legacy while furthering my work chronicling the lives and souls of folk within the African diaspora is a dream come true.”

Deadline, which first reported the news, wasn’t sure which cast might return, but it’s hard to imagine a Lion King movie without Simba (Donald Glover), Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter), Timon (Billy Eichner), or Pumbaa (Seth Rogen). The movie has no set release date. Next up for the Disney live-action remake machine? A take on 101 Dalmatians starring Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil. Why not.

Update: We’ve updated this story with additional details.

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