Filmmaker Jon Favreau will direct a new live-action “re-imagining” of the Disney animated classic “The Lion King.”
The Walt Disney Studios said Wednesday it had placed the movie “on the fast track to production” following the success of Favreau’s live-action / CGI adaptation of “The Jungle Book,” which has grossed $965.8 million worldwide since its April debut. No release date for the new “Lion King” was announced.
“ ‘The Lion King’ builds on Disney’s success of re-imagining its classics for a contemporary audience with films like ‘Maleficent,’ ‘Cinderella’ and ‘The Jungle Book,’ ” the company said in a statement. Like Disney’s upcoming adaptation of the animated “Beauty and the Beast,” starring Emma Watson, “The Lion King” will include songs from the original feature. Three tunes from the 1994 film were nominated for Academy Awards, with “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” winning for original song. The movie won an Oscar for Hans Zimmer’s original score.
Favreau, 49, whose directing credits include the hits “Iron Man” (2008) and “Iron Man 2” (2010), also is developing a sequel to “The Jungle Book.” That film used a live-action lead for the hero, Mowgli, who interacted with CGI animal characters voiced by stars including Bill Murray and Ben Kingsley.
“The Lion King” tells the story of Simba, a lion prince in the African savanna, who escapes into exile after his father, Mufasa, is killed through the machinations of Mufasa’s brother, Scar. Raised alongside the comical duo of Timon, a meerkat, and Pumbaa, a warthog, Simba eventually returns to reclaim the throne and find romance with his childhood friend, the lioness Nala.
The theatrical release grossed more than $968 million worldwide and spawned a best musical Tony Award-winner that has played more than 7,850 performances since it opened in 1997. There also have been two national tours, including a current one ongoing since April 2002. Additionally, a sequel and a prequel were released direct-to-video, and there have been two animated TV-series spinoffs.