Whatever the hell that means now.
It’s been nearly seventh months since the release of the live action Jungle Book, which I know feels like seven years when it comes to movies. But though it’s easy to forget, I can’t overemphasize just how big a success that film was: at the time of this writing, the film is the number four movie of the year, grossing an eye popping $965 million worldwide. That blows away pretty much every estimate about how popular the film would be, and easily ranks number one domestically amongst the recent slate of live action Disney Animation adaptations. That’s insanely good company to have too, as pretty much all of Disney’s live action remakes have done incredibly well for them; even the low grosser that was Pete’s Dragon made close to double its budget worldwide.
But in terms of that competition, Jungle Book was a clear winner here in the states, with only 2009’s Alice in Wonderland even close to the same number. For some reason or another, the film was able to tap into a common desire, creating a pretty unstoppable little four quadrant film (which, surprise surprise, has kind of been Disney’s MO for the past decade.) But more than anything, it’s the first movie in a long time to tap into a communal sense of wonder and amazement for just what films can do now. In essence it’s Avatar and, like Avatar, I was more interested in what the film would usher in more than the film itself (both, for the record, are just “okay”.)
Of course with Jungle Book, my main thought throughout the entire film was that Disney had cracked the nut on how to further exploit their animated remake brand. Before we would joke about them doing “live action” takes on the talking animal genre, and all had a good ol’ laugh. But after Jungle Book, that seemingly far-fetched concept is no longer out of the realm of possibility. “Oh Jesus,” I remember saying to myself, “they’re probably going to remake The Lion King now, aren’t they?”
And, Jesus, they are remaking The Lion King now.
As confirmed via press release by Disney themselves, they are earlier in development on a Lion King “re-imagining,” which I guess is a suitable way of describing this thing. I’m sure the main one you have been hearing is “live action Lion King,” which isn’t accurate in the slightest. Yes it will share the “photo realistic” look of The Jungle Book, but even that film could kinda be described as “live-action” through the character of Mowgli, played by real human child Neel Sethi (or at least that s what they told me; you wouldn’t be able to tell by the performance, though! BOOM, NAILED IT.) Of course “live action Lion King” is what everyone is going to be Googling when they hear about the project though, so sorry, that’s what we’re all going to call it. We had a movie blogger meeting about it and everything.
Anyways, it’s pretty clear that Disney is really trying to recapture the success of The Jungle Book with this live-action Lion King; they even hired Jungle Book director Jon Favreau to helm it, as he’s clearly their golden boy when it comes to this new subgenre. Favreau on his part seems excited to tackle the film, if the following tweet is any indication, which I think it is. Do lion emoticons count as excitement? For the sake of this article, let’s say yes.
Excited for my next project 🦁👑
— Jon Favreau (@Jon_Favreau) September 28, 2016
These CGI reimaginings (oh fuck it, animated movies) take a while to make, so I wouldn’t expect to see this one until at least 2019 at the earliest. But if we’re being honest here, I’d be fine waiting forever; in my eyes the original Lion King is pretty much a perfect film, easily my favorite Disney animated movie, and really shouldn’t be touched. While I could easily see improving upon the animated Jungle Book, I just can’t see what exactly a CGI take on this story will add to anything, other than Disney’s petty cash fund.
That being said, I will almost definitely watch the movie in theaters, just based on pure curiosity alone. But hey, it’s okay to be part of the problem as long as you know the problem exists, right? That’s what I’ll be telling myself in order to sleep at night, anyways.