Last Thursday, during Disney’s Investor Day meeting, the studio confirmed that Moonlight director Barry Jenkins will be helming the newest biggest screen adaptation of The Lion King, in the form of a prequel.
During an interview with Variety, Jenkins revealed that he’s happy with the script and says they have something wonderful in the works, he also revealed that his Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk cinematographer, James Laxton will be the director of photography on the newest Disney feature:
My agents send me a lot of scripts. When this one came, super top secret, I was very skeptical. Like you, I remember when “The Lion King” came out. I had two nephews, and so I used to watch it with them. “Lion King” was the “Baby Shark” of my time. I’d seen it literally hundreds of times and I had this connection to it, and yet I was skeptical because, who am I to make a “Lion King” movie? Not a “Lion King” sequel! A “Lion King” movie.
I read the script and about 40 pages in I turned to Lulu [Wang] and I said, “Holy shit, this is good.” And as I kept reading, I got further away from the side of my brain that said, “Oh, a filmmaker like you doesn’t make a film like this,” and allowed myself to get to the place where these characters, this story, is amazing. What really pushed me across the line was James, my DP, said, “You know what? There’s something really interesting in this mode of filmmaking that we haven’t done and that not many people have done.” That was when I went back to the powers that be and said, “I would love to do this, but I’ve got to be able to do what I do.” And they said yes! I think part of that is because I knew at that point that you had already shot a very big movie of your own with some of these same folks. And knowing that Chloe Zhao had gone from one of the most beautiful films of the century with “The Rider” to making a Marvel movie, I was like, “Oh, shit. If she can do it, I can do it.”
Details of the film are being kept under wraps but the trade is hearing that it will explore the origin of Mufasa. They revealed that it will be a Godfather: Part II approach to the previous film.
New music will be introduced in the sequel along with the traditional aspects of the first film. Jeff Nathanson, who worked on the first movie, wrote the script.
Barry Jenkins won the Oscar for best screenplay to Moonlight, which took home best picture for A24 studios. That next year, he was nominated for best director for If Beale Street Could Talk. Disney loves to nab their Oscar winners so this is a home run for the studio.
Disney had massive success with their 2019 adaptation of The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau. The film went on to gross $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office and was nominated for Best Achievement in Visual Effects Oscar earlier this year.