Following the resounding box-office success of the 1994 Walt Disney Pictures’ animated animal film The Lion King, 2019 will forever be remembered as the year it was first remade in computer-animated format. Taking advantage of tech advancement over the intervening years, the current production is so photorealistic that the producers almost completely succeeded in bridging the gap between animation and live-action. The welcome move came after the successful remaking of similar past Disney productions such as Cinderella, Beauty and The Beast, and The Jungle Book. Below are the details you need to know about The Lion King 2019 film.
Facts and News About The Lion King 2019
Although there have been changes in both casting and characterization, the storyline of The Lion King 2019 film is basically the same as the 1994 version. It tells of the treachery, gimmicks, and frenzy of power tussle in an idealized animal country known as the Pride Lands of Africa.
Pride Lands of Africa is a country composed of different kinds of animals from lions to primates and birds. But lions are the ones ruling over the country from the headquarters named Pride Rocks. The kingship of Pride Lands resides with a particular family of lions: The Mufasa family.
King Mufasa is well advanced in age and happily hopes to soon be succeeded by his new-born crown Prince named Simba. The crown prince is presented as a baby to a gathering of the animals as their next king. As Simba grows up gracefully, he is getting prepared to take over the kingship as Mufasa shows him around, explaining things to him.
But Mufasa’s brother Scar is envious of Simba becoming the lion King of Pride Lands. Thus, a dangerous power tussle begins and it is through a twist of subterfuge. First of all, Scar tries to eliminate Simba. So, he tricks the crown prince and his fiancee named Nala (both of whom are still cubs) to go to an elephant’s graveyard where no one is allowed. Scar plans to take advantage of the situation by sending a group of hyenas to attack the couple cubs while at the elephants’ graveyard. The plan is however frustrated as it gets revealed to Mufasa via his concierge Zazu (a hornbill) that the cubs are in danger.
With Mufasa now keeping a closer eye at Simba, Scar decides to eliminate Mufasa himself and succeed him before Simba grows old enough to take over the kingship. To enable him to achieve this, he again makes an alliance with the hyenas: the hyenas are to help him kill Mufasa in exchange for having hunting rights in a Scar-ruled Pride Lands. How does Scar go about his new plan? He decides to lure Simba into a gorge and drive a herd of gnus into a stampede in the gorge. The plan is, while Simba is in danger, Scar will alert Mufasa about the situation. Then, as Mufasa rushes to save his dear cub from danger, he gets into a trap.
Scar’s plan goes as described except that the lion king Mufasa manages to save Simba before he himself (Mufasa) gets entrapped at the edge of the gorge. As Mufasa dangles from where he is trapped, Scar pushes him off and he falls to his death. Now that Mufasa is gone but Simba still lives, what does Scar do to secure his full control of the throne at Pride Rock? Of course, he has to eliminate Simba too. But how? Scar guilt-trips Simba by telling him he (Simba) caused the death of Mufasa. He, therefore, advises Simba to go on an exile. However, while Simba still seems to drag his feet, Scar sends his hyena conspirators after Simba to kill the young lion. Simba escapes but the situation forces him into an exile.
Once Simba and Mufasa are safely out of his way, Scar convinces the animals of Pride Land that both their king Mufasa and his crown prince Simba had died in the stampede of the gnu herd. So, Scar subsequently presents himself to be made king, being the closest person to the throne still alive. He gets enthroned and surrounds himself with the hyenas.
Meanwhile, Simba is out in the deserts outside Pride Lands suffering excruciatingly. He collapses under the weight of the hash situation. But thankfully, he revives and discovers he has been rescued by the duo of Timon (a meerkat) and Pumbaa (a warthog) who are also outcasts. So, the three of them continue in friendship, living a carefree life inspired by the motto ‘Hakuna Matata’ (a Swahili phrase that says ‘don’t worry’). Then, one day, a lioness attacks Timon and Pumbaa but Simba rushes to rescue his friends from the lioness who turns out to be his fiancee Nala. Nala tries everything possible to convince Simba to return to Pride Lands all to no avail. He has given up all hope of ever becoming the lion king of Pride Lands.
But then, Simba runs into Rafiki who had served as Mufasa’s oracle, he intimates him on the physical and spiritual goings-on in Pride Lands including the fact that Scar is faring badly as a king and that Mufasa’s spirit still abides in the kingdom. To crown this, Simba encounters the spirit of Mufasa who orders him to go back and take back the kingship from Scar. So, with the help of Timon and Pumbaa, Simba returns and confronts Scar. Although Simba spares the life of Scar when Scar begs for mercy, blaming the hyena conspirators for his treachery, he sends him on an exile. But the hyenas, having overheard Scar’s betrayal of them, found Scar and killed him. Then, Simba assumes his position as the Lion King of the Pride Lands of Africa.
Who Wrote The Lion King Story?
The story was originally co-written by the American writer Irene Mecchi with Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton. Then, it was adapted for animation in 1994 by the animation story artist and film director, Brendan Chapman. However, leading up to the 2019 production, Jeffrey D. Nathanson was announced in October 2016 as the screenwriter for the remake.
Director and Producers
The Lion King 2019 film has been directed by Jonathan Favreau (more popularly known as Jon Favreau). Disney named Favreau the director as far back as September 2016. He is a veteran American actor and screenwriter who has also become a director and producer over the years. Born on October 19, 1966, the New Yorker who has Jewish and Italian-Catholic background has since proved his mettle as an actor and director through his association with MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). For instance, he both directed and starred in the 2008 MCU superhero film Iron Man, based on an eponymous Marvel Comics character. Favreau has also worked closely and for long with the Walt Disney Company which awarded him the title of a ‘Disney Legend’ in May 2019. Favreau co-produced The Lion King 2019 film with Jeffrey Silver and Karen Gilchrist.
Release Details and Box-Office Success
The Lion King 2019 film premiered on July 9, 2019, before the roll-out preview started in China on the night of Thursday, July 11, 2019, and held into the weekend. This was about a whole week before its nationwide theatrical release in the USA which was on July 19, 2019.
According to a recent report by CNET, the Lion King remake is the 9th highest-grossing film of all history. It achieved the feat by pulling in $1.435 billion in 11 days at the US Box Office.
The Lion King 2019 Cast Members and Characters
The central character is Simba, the crown prince of Pride Lands of Africa. The voice for Simba is supplied by Donald McKinley Glover Jr. (more popularly known as Donald Glover). Apart from being an actor, the multi-talented American is known as a comedian and disc jockey as well as a music performer, film director, producer, and writer. The voice of younger Simba is supplied by the American singer and actor Jaydon McCrary.
Other voice roles for The Lion King 2019 are those of:
1. Mufasa, the King of Pride Lands of Africa who is the brother of Scar and the father of Simba. This role is filled by the veteran and versatile American actor James Earl Jones who also filled the same role back in 1994. James’ career began on Broadway in 1957.
2. Scar is the power-hungry brother of the Lion King Mufasa and the uncle of the crown prince Simba. The character is expressed with the voice of the British-Nigerian actor/director Chiwetel Umeadi Ejiofor.
3. Sarabi, the wife of Mufasa and the mother of Simba whom Scar began to oppress and treat with ignominy when he takes over the throne. The American actress cum political activist Alfre Woodard is the one who has expressed this role in The Lion King 2019.
4. Rafiki, the sage mandrill who serves as the shaman (priest or oracle) of Pride Lands. He is the one who presents the crown prince to the citizens of Pride Lands which incurred the wrath of Scar. Rafiki’s voice is supplied by the South African actor and playwright Bonisile John Kani.
5. Zazu, the hornbill who works as the royal concierge. He is the one who alerted King Mufasa that the lives of Simba and Nala were in danger when Scar lured the cubs to the forbidden elephants’ graveyard. Zazu’s voice is supplied by the British comedian John William Oliver.
6. Nala, the lioness who is the friend and fiancee to Simba. The voice of Nala is supplied by the American singer and actress Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter (more popularly known as just ‘Beyoncé’).
7. Timon and Pumbaa: Timon is the meerkat while Pumbaa is the warthog. The duo rescues Simba out in the desert when the crown prince goes on an exile. Timon’s voice is supplied by the American comedic actor Billy Eichner while that of Pumbaa is expressed by the Canadian-American comedian Seth Aaron Rogen.
8. Shenzi, Kamari and Azizi, the hyena conspirators with Scar. The voice of Shenzi is supplied by the Ugandan-German actress Florence Kasumba; that of Kamari is supplied by the American comedian Keegan-Michael Key while that of Azizi is supplied by the American comedian and TV personality Eric Andre.
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Rating and Box Office Projections
The 1994 original production of The Lion King relatively lacks in animation but critics say it is superior to the 2019 remake in ’emotion’ and ‘energy’. Notably, the official Rotten Tomatoes review of the movie applauds the 2019 remake highly on visual expression. But in comparison to the original, the highly respected review website is disappointed based on a comparative lack of energy. This agrees with many of the commentaries across the web which, while expressing delights over the CGI animation and sound effects, score the film average at best for the emotional outputs.
But then, if you consider the emotion the new level of animation has contributed, then, this complaint may have largely been compensated for. Nonetheless, viewers have the right to expect an overall improvement.
As we are penning this, Rotten Tomatoes’ official algorithm review calculator, Tomatometer rates the film 55% (with 296 total counts) against the 89% it has received from the audience (with 16,683 verified ratings).
Then, coming to the box-office success of the 2019 film, it neither fell short nor exceeded the industry projections of 50 to 60 million dollars at roll-out as it ended up pulling $54.2 million at the China preview. At press time, the figure was at $271 million. The American ticketing company Fandango Media LLC has already reported that the current production places second in the first-24-hour presale. In all, Disney and its partners are said to be expecting up to $800 million but as stated earlier, it pulled in $1.435 billion in 11 days at the US Box Office.