Remember The Lion King from 1994? Of course you do; what a dumb question. The Lion King is a true classic, with some of the best writing, casting, and music ever put to screen. Some would even say it’s a perfect movie. And there’s no need to remake a perfect movie, right…?
WRONG. Last Wednesday, Disney announced that they will be making a “new reimagining” of The Lion King, with Jon Favreau as director. Many folks – myself included – have had some questions about this whole ordeal. Why are they doing this? Will it be live action or animated? Does Disney really think they can do justice to the original?
So in this thing that you’re currently reading, I thought I would try to make some predictions about how all this is going to turn out. I’ll going to break it into three parts: reasons it could work, reasons it could not work, and my final verdict. Keep in mind, a lot of this is just guessing, and I don’t really have any idea what I’m talking about. But, you’re already this far, so why turn back now?
Reasons It Could Work
What gives me the most faith in this remake is the fact that Jon Favreau is directing. Favreau is great! Just to list a few of his best: Elf, Iron Man, and Chef are all pretty fantastic. Yes, he has directed a few clunkers (think Cowboys & Aliens), but on the whole, this guy’s track record is solid. Most recently, he directed The Jungle Book, which I really enjoyed. This remake was essentially an updated version of the original story, but still managed to tap into the same magic as the 1967 version. With any luck, we’d be getting something similar in his version of The Lion King.
To add onto this, Disney’s involvement also inspires confidence. Disney seems to own everything now (Star Wars AND Marvel AND Pixar). I know some people take issue with this, and we probably will have to suffer through some needless crossovers at some point. But on the whole, everything Disney has been pumping out over the past few years has been, at the very least, fine. Some of it has even been great! So, realistically, with Favreau at the helm and with all of Disney behind him, The Lion King remake should turn out well enough.
Reasons It Might Not Work
Ok, where to start? I have more than a few issues with this idea; I’ll try to go through them without getting too ranty.
Firstly: reboots, especially ones from the last decade or so, are so often just garbage. Seriously, we don’t need a gritty, real-world version of every movie we watched when we were kids. No one cared about Oz the Great and Powerful, or Alice Through the Looking Glass, or Snow White and the Huntsman, or Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, or – look, you get the point. I would be very surprised if the Lion King remake took this direction. But if it does, there is no way it’s going to be good.
Second: how is this movie going to look? Obviously, the original is animated, which totally works in its favor. However, making this new version animated as well would be a very strange decision, and would almost definitely confuse audiences. Chances are, they’re going to do it how they did The Jungle Book – real human actors and CGI, photorealistic animals. Again, that visual style totally worked for that movie. But would it work for The Lion King? Keep in mind, there are no humans in the original Lion King – every character is an animal of some sort. So if Disney takes the same route as they did with The Jungle Book, it’s just going to be a bunch of real-looking animals talking to one another with normal human voices. And frankly, after two Cats & Dogs movies, I think we’re had enough of that.
Next up: the original Lion King has some of the best casting of all time. James Earl Jones as King Daddy Lion Mufasa? Jeremy Irons as his crafty, villainous brother? Nathan Lane as a sarcastic, possibly Jewish meerkat? It doesn’t get much better than that. And yeah, I don’t doubt that Disney could get most of these actors back. But would they? If they want to take the story in a different direction, there’s a good chance of a total recasting. I don’t want Justin Bieber to be Simba, do you?
Lastly: (and this is my main thought) why do we even need a remake? Like I said earlier, The Lion King might be a perfect movie. Even if you don’t agree, how could they possibly top the original? It seems like an unnecessary money grab – especially considering that they could just re-release the movie and make millions. That’s not just an estimate, by the way. Disney re-released The Lion King in 2002 in only 66 theaters, and it made over $15 million. In 2011, Disney released a 3-D version, and it made over $94 million – in North America alone. So Disney could just re-release it again, which would cost them no money, and make literally millions of dollars – just like that. To summarize: we don’t need a new version of this movie.
It’s probably pretty obvious what I think: Disney really shouldn’t do this. No matter how great this new version is, there’s just no way it can compare to the original. But, that’s just one man’s opinion, and my opinion means very little. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised, and this will all turn out fine. Maybe.
Do you think a remake of The Lion King is a good idea or not? Let me know in the comments section below. Also, if you hated this article, feel free to mention that as well, and you’ll get a full refund. As always, thanks for reading!