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Because You Demanded It: A Lion King Sequel

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Disney’s 2019 Lion King “live-action” remake took a pounding from critics upon release and ranks near the bottom of favorite Disney films of the past decade. It’s described as lifeless and uninspired, and its stiff CG is a massive downgrade from the fluid animation of the original. It also raked in $1.6 billion worldwide. So here we are.

They’re now going to attempt a Lion King II using the same aesthetic as the first (CG lions mimicking reality). Jon Favreau, who directed the original, is stepping down and will be replaced by Barry Jenkins. “Helping my sister raise two young boys during the ’90s, I grew up with these characters,” Jenkins states in the press release. “Having the opportunity to work with Disney on expanding this magnificent tale of friendship, love and legacy while furthering my work chronicling the lives and souls of folk within the African diaspora is a dream come true.”

Of course, a sequel sort of already exists, depending on if you consider those direct-to-video movies canon or not. The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride was released on VHS in 1998 and was one of the few sequel-factory productions to measure up against the original. The only mistake was when they realized midway through production that if Kovu really was Scar’s son, Simba’s daughter would be dating her cousin. It was too late to change the design of the character or the voice, so….the movie keeps it vague. Best they could do.

It’s unknown at this time if the “live-action” Lion King II will be taking anything from Simba’s Pride, but from the sounds of things, they could be swiping from Lion King 1 1/2 instead. An early description of the plot mentions a hybrid sequel/prequel where scenes from the past flesh out characters from the present. Mufasa’s origin story is mentioned in particular.

Mufasa’s original actor (James Earl Jones) was the only one to return in the 2019 remake, with current-era stars Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen, John Oliver, Keegan-Michael Key, Eric Andre, Amy Sedaris, Chance the Rapper and others filling out the roles. It’s unknown at this time if any of them will be back. There will also be new songs, a tall order given the fact they can’t steal them from a superior film anymore. The Lion King II currently has no release date.