The Disney Renaissance that began in the late 1980s and continued on through to most of the ’90s was a period of time in which Disney was churning out one animated hit film after another; starting with such projects as The Little Mermaid and giving rise to classic Disney titles like Beauty and the Beast (the first animated feature nominated for the Best Picture Oscar) as well as some of the Mouse House’s most financially-popular films ever, in the forms of Aladdin and The Lion King. It’s not surprising, then, that as Disney keeps on green-lighting more and more re-imaginings of its animated classics, more Renaissance flicks have been confirmed to get a live-acton/CGI makeover themselves.
All of the aforementioned Disney animated films are now in the process of getting a live-action/CGI remake, with The Lion King confirmed as being directed by Jon Favreau: the filmmaker who turned Disney’s 1967 animated take on The Jungle Book into a critically-acclaimed blockbuster that features cutting-edge photorealistic animal characters and has grossed nearly a billion dollars worldwide in theaters. Of course, The Lion King needs a screenwriter too – and now, it has one, reportedly.
Deadline is reporting that The Lion King is being scripted by Jeff Nathanson: a screenwriter fresh off writing another upcoming Mouse House tentpole, in the form of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (which opens in theaters in May of 2017). Nathanson has an overall solid track record as a studio movie writer to his name too, having scripted such films as Rush Hour 2 & 3 and Tower Heist, as well as the Steven Spielberg-directed Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal. He also wrote an early script draft for Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Disney recruiting Nathanson to write The Lion King suggests that studio executives are pleased enough with his work on the upcoming fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie to entrust him with one of the studio’s more treasured properties. Like The Jungle Book (2016) before it though, this new version of The Lion King is expected to retain many of the same plot and character elements found in its animated predecessor (including, some of its Oscar-winning songs); at the same time, still adding enough fresh material to allow this rendition of Simba’s story to stand on its own two (four?) feet.
Favreau’s vision for The Jungle Book, blending reverence for its source material with a willingness to innovate, paid off quite handsomely, as was mentioned before. It’s Favreau’s vision for The Lion King that will similarly determine if this new rendition of the tale of Simba will fly equally high – and perhaps, even prove able to hold its head up tall next to its predecessor. Favreau has already expressed a desire to apply the technological advances made and experience he gained from The Jungle Book to his future endeavors, so that certainly bodes well for The Lion King too.
We’ll let you know when The Lion King gets an official theatrical release date.