The Lion King

Nothing says redundant, unnecessary, and unneeded like a beat-for-beat, (nearly) shot-for-shot remake of a beloved animated classic like the faux-live-action (re) iteration of Disney’s beloved, 1994 animated classic, The Lion King. Since its premiere twenty-five years ago, The Lion King has become a permanent pop-culture fixture, passed on from generation to generation as one of – if not, the – highlights of Disney’s animation renaissance. Like practically ever Disney film-turned –classic, it’s become a self-perpetuating brand of its own, expanding to straight-to-video sequels, animated TV series, and a Broadway musical that’s become the highest grossing musical of all time. In short, we didn’t need a faux-live-action remake of a classic, maybe just a re-release or even a big-screen, old school animated sequel. For the Disney Industrial Complex eager to exploit its back catalog of animated classics, a live-action (or faux-live-action) version of The Lion King was all but inevitable. Just because you can, though, doesn’t mean you should. The bland, dull, ultimately soporific result, however, suggests that for once, the Disney Industrial Complex erred badly. (more…)

The new Mulan trailer has dropped and I, for one, am hype. A culturally adept film with an all Asian cast about a Chinese badass warrior woman? Sign me the heck up.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. 

In the comments of the new trailer, on YouTube and Facebook, most people voiced lukewarm feelings or outright distaste for the film’s changes. After all, unlike most of the Disney remakes, the movie plans to change quite a bit. Mulan will be more culturally accurate, will not be a musical, and will not have the talking animal characters it once had. People seem to be really up in arms about no “Girl Worth Fighting For” or Mushu. 

Recently, there has also been a big internet hullabaloo about Disney executives picking a black actor to play Ariel. There is a fair amount of speculation if a lot of that uproar was manufactured for free press. Either way, there is a big controversy around the upcoming The Little Mermaid film now instead of excited buzz. 

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If you hadn’t noticed, Disney has been doing a few live-action remakes of some of their greatest films. So far, we have seen a live-action (with some hefty CGI) version of The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast. Disney has been working on future releases of The Little Mermaid and other hit animated films, but it seems we might get to see The Lion King with Chiwetel Ejiofor potentially playing Scar in the near future.

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The Lion King remains one of the most profitable and beloved of Disney‘s animated classics, the total package of a great voice cast, great music, and a story with universal appeal. Jon Favreau has his work cut out for him adapting The Lion King for his photorealistic remake, perhaps it’s even more of a challenge that the director’s work on The Jungle Book, given that there are a lot of people out there that grew up with the tale of Simba and his birth, exile and return as the king of the Pride. Well, Favreau’s now cast two of the movie’s trickiest roles, Timon and Pumbaa.  (more…)

As Disney continues their live-action remake trend, they are rolling out all the hits. Given the massive success of hits like The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, Disney is in no mood to slow down. Next on their plate is a live-action remake of 1994 classic The Lion King. The new film will be directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book), the film will use the same cutting edge CGI technology used in The Jungle Book. The film also has already cast Donald Glover as Simba and James Earl Jones returning to his role of Mufasa. It looks like they possibly have found their Nala.

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Child or adult, The Lion King is an emotional journey that should have left an imprint on those who have seen the Disney animated film. From the soundtrack to the colorful visuals to the wonderful voice acting, the movie was the complete package. So when Jon Favreau announced a live-action remake, it was no surprise people got excited. It had been silent on their end for quite some time since then, but today, Favreau finally tweeted out who will play his Simba and Mufasa. Making his return as King of the Jungle is James Earl Jones. By his side, to play Simba his son, will be Donald Glover.

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Consider these numbers $1 billion, $750 million, and $500 million. That’s how much money Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, and Cinderella made respectively at the worldwide box office. The lesson here for the Walt Disney Company is that there’s big money in live-action modern remakes of their classic animated films. The point was proven again earlier this year when The Jungle Book sat comfortably in the Top 5 box office rankings for weeks, along the way racking up $965 million in receipts. That was impressive work, especially for the man behind the film, Iron Man director Jon Favreau, and he’s going to stay in the Disney remake business with his next film. Hint: it’s the Circle of Life. (more…)