Disney confirmed Wednesday morning that a remake of the beloved 1994 animated classic The Lion King is on the way. However, before you call that a blasphemous decision, it is important to note that it is being directed by the same filmmaker who turned a remake of The Jungle Book into a success.
Here is what we know about the project so far.
1. Jon Favreau, Who Made ‘The Jungle Book,’ Is Set to Direct
Jon Favreau, who directed this summer’s The Jungle Book, confirmed on Twitter that The Lion King will be his next project. He also posted the above image on Instagram, adding, “Excited for my next project.”
Disney later confirmed the news in a press release, boasting about the success of Favreau’s The Jungle Book remake. That film earned critical acclaim upon its April release and earned $965.8 million worldwide.
The press release also notes that Disney and Favreau are developing a Jungle Book 2.
John Nathanson, who wrote Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and worked with Steven Spielberg on three movies, will write the script.
2. The New Film Will Include the Original Tim Rice and Elton John Songs
According to the press release, the new Lion King film, which the studio is calling a “reimagnining” instead of a “remake,” will include the beloved songs written by Elton John and Tim Rice for the original film.
John and Rice won an Oscar for the song “Can you Feel The Love Tonight” and were also nominated for “Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata.” Hans Zimmer won the Oscar for Best Original Score.
3. The Original ‘Lion King’ Has Grossed Over $960 Million Since its Original Release
The Lion King is still one of the most high-profile Disney projects and grossed #968.4 million worldwide since its original release. Domestically, the film has earned $422.7 million.
Since 1994, the film has been re-released twice. In 2002, the film’s IMAX run earned $15.7 million. A 2011 3D release earned $94.2 million.
Disney is also airing a spin-off series called The Lion Guard. The studio also produced a Timon and Pumba TV series, as well as three direct-to-video follow-up films.
4. Favreau Is Also Planning a Comeback to the Marvel Universe for Disney
Favreau directed Iron-Man and Iron-Man 2, also starring as Happy Hogan in those films. He hasn’t played the role since 2013’s Iron Man 3, but revealed in an Yahoo Movies interview that he will play the part again in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
And now, in Spider-Man: Homecoming, coming back and reuniting with the characters as an actor — it’s a lot of fun. It allows me to maintain the relationship with the MCU, but also to do other things that are interesting that are outside of that genre and that set of characters.
Favreau began directing in the late 1990s, but had his first hit behind the camera with the holiday classic Elf. His other credits include Cowboys & Aliens, Zathura: A Space Adventure and 2014’s Chef.
5. The Original ‘Lion King’ Was Inspired by ‘Hamlet’
The makers of The Lion King have said that the film was inspired by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s true that the screenplay – written by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton – shares some surface-deep similarities with Shakespeare’s tragedy of the Prince of Denmark. However, as the site Tor.com noted in February 2016, there are many differences, including a happy ending not present in Hamlet.
There was also controversy at the time of the film’s release because it had some similarities with the 1960s Japanese anime series Kimba The White Lion. Co-director Roger Allers claimed in Italian interview in 2014 that he never heard the name “Kimba” mentioned during the production.
“I worked with George Scribner (the first director) and Linda Woolverton (the first writer) to develop the story in the early days but then left to help out on Aladdin. If one of them were familiar with Kimba they didn’t say. Of course, it’s possible,” Allers said. He later added that he could understand why the creators of Kimba would have been angry.
“I could certainly understand Kimba’s creators feeling angry if they felt we had stolen ideas from them,” Allers said. “If I had been inspired by Kimba I would certainly acknowledge my inspiration. All I can offer is my respect to those artists and say that their creation has its loyal admirers and its assured place in animation history.”
“I know for a fact that (“Kimba”) has never been discussed as long as I’ve been on the project,” co-director Rob Minkoff told the Los Angeles Times in 1994. “In my experience, if Disney becomes aware of anything like that, they say you will not do it. People are claiming copyright infringement all the time.”