The recently released movie The Lion King is a 2019 American musical film directed and produced by Jon Favreau  written by Jeff Nathanson, and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. It is a photorealistic computer-animated remake of Disney’s traditionally animated 1994 film The Lion King. The film stars the voices of Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, as well as James Earl Jones reprising his role from the original. Plans for a remake of The Lion King were confirmed in September 2016 following the success of Disney’s The Jungle Book, also directed by Favreau. Much of the main cast signed in early 2017 and principal production began in mid-2017 on a blue screen stage in Los Angeles. It received mixed reviews, with praise for its visual effects, musical score and vocal performances, but criticism for its facial animations and lack of originality. (Wikipedia)

STORYLINE:

The plot follows Simba, a young lion who must embrace his role as the rightful king of his native land following murder of his father, Mufasa, at the hands of his uncle, Scar. The movie is set in the Pride Lands of Africa, a pride of lions rule over the animal kingdom from Pride Rock. King Mufasa’s and Queen Sarabi’s newborn son, Simba, is presented to the gathering animals by Rafiki the mandrill, the kingdom’s shaman and advisor. Mufasa shows Simba the Pride Lands and explains to him the responsibilities of kingship and the “circle of life”, which connects all living things. Mufasa’s younger brother, Scar, covets the throne and plots to eliminate Mufasa and Simba, so he may become king. He tricks Simba and his best friend Nala (to whom Simba is betrothed) into exploring a forbidden elephants’ graveyard, where they are attacked by spotted hyenas led by Shenzi, Kamari, and Azizi. Mufasa is alerted about the incident by his majordomo, the hornbill Zazu, and rescues the cubs. Though upset with Simba, Mufasa forgives him and explains that the great kings of the past watch over them from the night sky, from which he will one day watch over Simba.

Scar sets a trap for his brother and nephew, luring Simba into a gorge and having the hyenas drive a large herd of wildebeest into a stampede that will trample him. He informs Mufasa of Simba’s peril, knowing that the king will rush to save his son. Mufasa saves Simba but ends up hanging perilously from the gorge’s edge. Scar refuses to help Mufasa, instead sending him falling to his death. He then convinces Simba that the tragedy was Simba’s own fault and advises him to leave the kingdom and never return. He orders the hyenas to kill the cub, but Simba escapes. Scar tells the pride that both Mufasa and Simba were killed in the stampede and steps forward as the new king, allowing his three hyena minions and the rest of their large pack to live in the Pride Lands. Simba collapses in a desert and is rescued by Timon and Pumbaa, a meerkat and warthog, who are fellow outcasts. Simba grows up in the jungle with his two new friends, living a carefree life under the motto “hakuna matata” (“no worries” in Swahili). Now a young adult, Simba rescues Timon and Pumbaa from a hungry lioness, who turns out to be Nala. She and Simba reunite and fall in love, and she urges him to return home, telling him that Pride Lands have become a drought-stricken wasteland under Scar’s reign. Feeling guilty over his father’s death, Simba refuses and storms off. He then encounters Rafiki, who tells him that Mufasa’s spirit lives on in Simba. Simba is visited by the ghost of Mufasa in the night sky, who tells him that he must take his rightful place as king. Realizing that he can no longer run from his past, Simba decides to return to the Pride Lands.

Aided by his friends, Simba sneaks past the hyenas at Pride Rock and confronts Scar, who had just struck Sarabi. Scar taunts Simba over his role in Mufasa’s death and backs him to the edge of the rock, where he reveals to him that he murdered Mufasa. Enraged, Simba pins Scar to the ground and forces him to reveal the truth to the rest of the pride. Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki, Zazu, and the lionesses fend off the hyenas while Scar, attempting to escape, is cornered by Simba at the top of Pride Rock. Scar begs for mercy and attempts to blame the hyenas for his actions; Simba spares his life, but orders him to leave the Pride Lands forever. Scar attacks his nephew, but Simba manages to toss him from the top of the rock. Scar survives the fall, but is attacked and killed by the hyenas, who overheard his attempt to betray them. Afterwards, Simba takes over the kingship as rain begins to fall. He also makes Nala his queen.

Later, with Pride Rock restored to its usual state, Rafiki presents Simba and Nala’s newborn cub to the assembled animals, continuing the circle of life. (Wikipedia)

VOICE CAST:

In mid-February 2017, Donald Glover was cast as Simba, with James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa from the 1994 film.In April 2017, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen were cast to play Timon and Pumbaa respectively. In July 2017, John Oliver was cast as Zazu. In August 2017, Alfre Woodard and John Kani were announced to play Sarabi and Rafiki, respectively.

Earlier in March 2017, it was announced that Beyoncé was Favreau’s top choice for the role of Nala and that the director and studio would be willing to do whatever it took to accommodate her busy schedule.  Later on November 1, 2017, her role was confirmed in an official announcement, which also confirmed that Chiwetel Ejiofor would play the role of Scar, and announced that Eric Andre, Florence Kasumba, and Keegan-Michael Key will be the voices of Azizi, Shenzi and Kamari while JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph will be the voices of young Simba and young Nala, respectively. In November 2018, Amy Sedaris was announced as having been cast in a role created for the film.

PRODUCTION:

On September 28, 2016, Walt Disney Pictures confirmed that Jon Favreau would be directing a remake of the 1994 animated film The Lion King, which would feature the songs from the 1994 film, following a string of recent box office successes on the other Disney live-action remake films such as Maleficent, Cinderella, Favreau’s The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, with the latter three also earning critical praise. On October 13, 2016, it was reported that Disney had hired Jeff Nathanson to write the screenplay for the remake,with the story written by Brenda Chapman, who was the original film’s head of story. The Movie was made from a budget of $250 Million. (Wikipedia)

In November, talking with ComingSoon.net, Favreau said the virtual cinematography technology he used in The Jungle Book would be used to a greater degree in The Lion King. Although the media reported The Lion King to be a live-action film, it actually utilizes photo realistic computer-generated animation. Disney also did not describe it as live-action, only stating it would follow the “technologically groundbreaking” approach of The Jungle Book. While the film acts as a remake of the 1994 animated film, Favreau was inspired by the Broadway adaptation of the film for certain aspects of the remake’s plot, particularly Nala and Sarabi’s roles. Favreau also aimed to develop his own take on the original film’s story with what he said was “the spectacle of a BBC wildlife documentary”.

This serves as the final credit for film editor Mark Livolsi, who died in September 2018. The film is dedicated to him.

RELEASE

The Lion King premiered in Hollywood on July 9, 2019. The film is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on July 19, 2019. The film began its international rollout a week before its domestic release, starting with July 12 in China. (Wikipedia)

BOX OFFICE

Beginning on June 24, 2019 (which marked the 25th anniversary of the release of the original film), in its first 24 hours of pre-sales, The Lion King became the second-best pre-seller of 2019 on Fandango in that frame (behind Avengers: Endgame), while Atom Tickets reported it gave their best-ever first-day sales for a family film. Three weeks prior to its release, industry tracking projected the film would gross $150–170 million in its domestic opening weekend. By the week of its release, estimates had the film debuting to as much as $180 million from 4,500 theaters. (Wikipedia)

The film is expected to gross around $450 million over its first 10 days of global release, including $160–170 million from its worldwide opening weekend. In China, where it released a week prior to the rest of the world, the film was projected to debut to $50–60 million. It ended up opening to $54.2 million, besting the debuts of The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast.

RATINGS

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 58% based on 177 reviews, and an average rating of 6.36/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Though it can take pride in its visual achievements, this reimagined The Lion King is a by the numbers retelling that lacks the energy and heart that made the original so beloved – though for some fans that may just be enough.” Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 55 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.(Wikipedia)

Now showing at Silverbird,Ozone.Filmhouse and Marturion Cinemas in Lagos

Compiled by Michael Osuji edited by Nosakhare Uwadiae

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