Jon Favreau to Direct Live Action Adaptation of Lion King

A live action adaptation of Disney’s 1994 animated classic The Lion King is is the works with Jon Favreau set to direct.

According to Collider, yesterday Disney officially announced that they will be moving forward with a live action adaptation of the 1994 animated hit Lion King.  Disney has been looking to adapt nearly all of their classic animation library so it should come as no surprise that one of their biggest hits will receive the live action treatment.  The likely reason for why it took them so long to announce that Lion King will be added to their film slate is because unlike all their other titles listed thus far Lion King would involve no actual humans on the screen.  It makes sense then that Disney would bring in Jon Favreau to direct after his success with adapting Jungle Book (which only had one real character on the screen).  Here’s the report from Collider.

“Disney is now firmly moving forward with a live-action adaptation of The Lion King, and they’re turning to director Jon Favreau to spearhead the project. Walt Disney Studios announced today that it is joining forces with its The Jungle Book helmer on “a new reimagining” of The Lion King, which is on the fast track to production. The film will feature songs from the iconic 1994 film, but beyond that no other specifics are given.

With The Jungle Book, Favreau did a tremendous job of blending CG characters and environments with his live-action Mowgli, pushing technology to its limits, and Disney was so happy with the results that they quickly set Favreau to helm a sequel. While he’s attached to both The Jungle Book 2 and The Lion King, it appears that the latter is his next film, as Favreau tweeted today he’s excited for his “next project” with appropriate Lion King emojis.”

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I’m a big fan of Favreau.  If you read any post I’ve ever written about the guy I provide the same talking point that he’s made a career of making projects better than they have any right to be.  He crafted a modern holiday classic with Elf, created the template for Marvel’s success with Iron Man and somehow made Jungle Book (practically a cartoon) feel alive and engaging.  If anyone can pull this off and make it as good, if not better than the original I’d put my money on him.

My faith in Favreau notwithstanding, I have to ask one question.  When does a live action movie cease from being a live action movie?  All the characters and I would assume the vast majority, if not all, or the environments are going to be computer generated.  Is it considered “live action” simply because the effects are photo-realistic?  There’s a good chance that there literally won’t be a single thing that’s real on the screen during the entire runtime.  I’m not saying that this will detract from the viewing experience (if he can make it as engaging as Jungle Book was it’ll truly be an impressive feat), but it’s just one of those thoughts to ponder.

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What is your dream cast to voice the characters in Lion King.  Unlike Jungle Book, all the actors who voiced the characters for the 1994 film are still alive and active in Hollywood (well, Jonathan Taylor-Thomas has all but disappeared, but you know what I mean).  Will they bring back some of the originals like James Earl Jones and Nathan Lane?  Share your thoughts below.

There’s no target release date for the movie yet, but Disney has two “Untitled Live Action Movie” dates slotted for August 3, 2018 and December 25, 2018.  My guess is that a high profile project like Lion King could slide right into a holiday release for 2018.

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