Live Action Lion King Film!

Jondee here at the Pride Lands,

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Director Jon Favreau announced that he will be working on the live action Lion King film on Instagram, “Excited for my next project.” There is no release date for the film yet. Favreau of course is well known for adapting The Jungle Book this year. So this leaves the question of how to adapt the 1994 animated film. The answer rests in the other adaptation, the Lion King musical, which opened in 1997. Julie Taymor was able to expand on the material of the cartoon using the Rhythm of the Pride Lands album from Lebo M who worked on the soundtrack of Lion King and it’s direct to video sequels. The part that is missing from the animated film? Africa. Yes, it is set in Africa, but it is more of a mythical land, than the actual country. The musical brought more of an African influence than the pop music of the animated film. So, I think the movie should open with a grandfather and his grandson, similar to Princess Bride, this would be a shock to an audience waiting for the animated opening, stay with me. The grandfather takes his grandson, who doesn’t care about traditions and wants to live in the modern Africa, to a storyteller. She starts to tell the story of Simba and tells him about the Pride Lands. Cut to Circle of Life. I hope to see animals, maybe the parents of characters from the Lion Guard; honey badger, hippo, cheetah, and egret among the animals honoring Simba. The grandfather and grandson of course parallels the story in Lion King, hopefully the voices will be the same as young Simba and Mufasa, and also Rafiki, I hope it will be a female baboon like in the musical. The storyteller can use puppets to also reflect the musical. This is a short prologue, not more than a few minutes.

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Ok, so who to cast as the characters? I hope Jon Favreau goes with a groundbreaking idea, cast all of the actors from the musical. The closest stage to film casting was Rent (2005). I think Favreau could make it a legitimate musical by casting actors with theatrical experience and he has shown the ability to work with young actors with Jungle Book and Zathura (2005). So whatever actors in whatever production that Favreau choses, maybe different productions, and there is also another reason for picking musical actors. The interesting part of the musical is not just the costumes, but the choreography. This would make it a plus to have the musical actors. Also, it would be great crossover to see the film’s actors in a production. There is one exception, Mufasa, he (and the grandfather) should be played by James Earl Jones if he’s up for it. Jones has been great voicing Mufasa in Lion Guard and also Darth Vader for Star Wars: Rebels. So most of the movements of the characters can be seen through the musical’s choreography. This would make it more interesting than a simple CG rendering of the cartoon characters. Another part of the musical is spectacle of animals walking through the aisles, this could make the 3D something else for a film. Favreau was able to bring the jungle to that opening scene of Jungle Book, here would be more of a film of animal main characters. I also hope that Nala’s part is developed like the musical with more emphasis on her long hunt to get food for the pride. The live action Lion King has the potential to “move us all.”

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