Director Jon Favreau Takes the Classic Story to the Big Screen in a Whole New Way.
Disney’s “The Lion King,” journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother—and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.
Widely considered an animated masterpiece, beloved by fans worldwide, Disney’s 1994’s classic “The Lion King” won Academy Awards® for the original song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (Elton John, Tim Rice) and original score (Hans Zimmer).
In 1997, the stage production inspired by the film made its Broadway debut, subsequently winning six Tony Awards®; 22 years later, it remains one of Broadway’s biggest hits, recently marking its 9,000th show.
“It’s such a beloved property,” says Favreau. “Disney has had tremendous success with the original animated version and then the Broadway musical. I knew that I had to be very careful with it. I felt a tremendous responsibility not to screw it up. I wanted to demonstrate that we could be respectful of the source material while bringing it to life using mind-blowing techniques and technologies.”
Favreau helmed 2016’s “The Jungle Book,” utilizing technology to tell the story in a contemporary and immersive way. The film wowed audiences and won an Oscar® for best visual effects (Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, Dan Lemmon), and the experience was eye-opening for the director, revealing a new world of possibility.
But it was a trip to Africa that pointed him in the direction of “The Lion King.” “I went on safari to Africa six months prior to first talking to Disney about doing this film,” says Favreau. “I remember when a warthog ran by our safari vehicle, one of the people in our group started singing ‘Hakuna Matata.’ And then when we saw lions up on a rock, they all said, ‘Oh, look, it looks like Lion King.’ This story has become a frame of reference that everybody now knows and accepts. It pops up in music, on TV shows, in comedy routines, as part of sketches. It’s continually referenced. It’s such a deep part of our
culture that it felt like there was a tremendous opportunity to build on that and to retell the story in a different medium.”
The all-star cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as Timon.
The Lion King roars into cinemas everywhere on Wednesday July 17!