The Lion King technology

Back in 2017, I caught a glimpse of the future.

During a visit to the set of Jon Favreau’s The Lion King, we got a look at the technology the director and his team used to create the film’s locations in virtual reality. Using a video game engine called Unity, all of the movie’s sets were built as explorable environments that can be visited and scouted by simply donning a virtual reality headset. You can be standing in a sound stage in Playa Vista, California at 9am, and then, five seconds later, be looking around the African plains as the sun sets in the distance.

During our set visit interviews, some of The Lion King’s primary crew members shared their observations and insights about what other kinds of movies could be made with this technology and how it might change the way we think about entertainment moving forward. Remaking classic films is just the beginning – this could be a stepping stone to an entirely new form of experiential entertainment. Read More »

live-action Lion King shot

While many people tend to refer to the new The Lion King remake from Disney as “live-action”, it’s anything but. Instead, it’s a computer-animated film with photo-realistic characters. But there actually is one live-action shot in the movie – and director Jon Favreau just revealed it online. See the live-action Lion King shot below.

Read More »

Mulan Trailer

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: Mulan looks like the better approach for future Disney live-action remakes.)

I spend a lot of time going to bat for reboots, remakes, and relaunches. When done well, they bring a whole new wave of excited viewers to a property. They’re also pretty critical for keeping franchises alive. Yeah, we all have that purist friend who looks down their nose at anything that’s even close to a spin on something they loved growing up, but they’re super gatekeepy and we all avoid talking to them for a reason. Folks like that also get to enjoy all of the things that a new wave of fans help provide, like new merch, conversations, and renewed interest from old fans. 

But what happens when the idea of a remake gets a little too literal? In the first trailer, Disney elected to do almost shot-for-shot remake of a key scene The Lion King. Now, it’s easy to see what they were going for. The original film is universally beloved and considered pretty close to perfect by a lot of fans. Don’t mess with perfection, right? Thing is, you probably just shouldn’t bother remaking the movie if that’s going to be the case. Heck, just re-release the original as a cinematic event and save yourself a few boatloads of cash! 

Read More »

Working Fifth Element Gun

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, watch as Adam Savage reveals his build of a fully functional version of Zorg’s gun from The Fifth Element. Plus, pay attention as Jon Favreau breaks down what went into a scene in Disney’s remake of The Lion King, and The Today Show has an extensive chat with Quentin Tarantino and the cast of his new movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Read More »

The Lion King Box Office

Disney had no problem topping the charts again this summer with their release of the remake of The Lion King. Audiences may not be sure whether to call this movie animation or live-action, but they clearly had to see it for themselves to the tune of a $185 million opening weekend at the domestic box office. That’s enough to give the movie the #9 spot on the chart of the best opening weekends of all-time.  Read More »

The Lion King Featurette

The Lion King remake from Walt Disney Pictures is currently sitting with a rotten score of 56% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing, but that’s exactly the score Aladdin earned, and that movie has made $965 million worldwide so far, so I think The Lion King will be just fine. Even so, some people might need a nudge towards theaters to see how this movie updates the animated classic from 1994, and a new featurette shines some light on that.

Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, and Billy Eichner have the honor of recording a new version of the beloved song “Hakuna Matata” from the original animated movie. Since this is a remake, the song couldn’t just be a carbon copy of the original, but it also couldn’t stray too far from the version that people love. This new The Lion King featurette showcases all three cast members talking about singing the updated tune, and you even get to see them recording together in the sound booth. Watch! Read More »

The Lion King IMAX

Jon Favreau‘s The Lion King has proven somewhat divisive among critics, but most agree that his new film is, at the very least, a jaw-dropping technical achievement. Through the use of new technology, Favreau found a way to make a remake of a 25-plus-year-old movie feel like an event – something studios seem to be struggling with as rival franchise entries have been flopping left and right this year.

Now word has arrived that certain The Lion King IMAX theaters will play a version of the movie that’s been specifically formatted for IMAX screens, in which the movie’s biggest musical numbers will expand vertically to fill up the entire screen. Find out which theaters are hosting these screenings below.
Read More »

The Lion King Remake Comparison

With John Favreau’s hybrid of plate photography and CGI characters bringing The Lion King back to screen, it’s a perfect opportunity to look at the key personnel who helped bring the indelible songs from the film to life. Some are famous, some less so, and some were left out of the narrative until recently. Since the original landed in 1994, this music has become part of a new pop song canon, playing for decades on Broadway and continuing to enthrall new generations.

When the film was released, this was a breakthrough for Disney. The film was the first animated feature in the studio’s history not based on an existing property, a rarity even by today’s standards as evidenced by the fact that their entire slate seems to be remakes, sequels or prequels of familiar titles. Drawing from many references, especially Hamlet, the film was shepherded by many of the same that brought Beauty and the Beast to the screen, and along with Aladdin and  Little Mermaid convinced the world that the studio was once again the home to classic, timeless animated extravaganzas. The film had strong story, fantastic visuals, but above all an infectious soundtrack made by some exceptional talent.

Here are some of those that helped give rise to the music of The Lion King.

Read More »

Hans Zimmer interview

Quick: how many Oscars has composer Hans Zimmer won during his 30-plus year career? Despite crafting some of the most memorable movie music of the past three decades, the answer is only one – Best Original Score for the original animated version of Disney’s The Lion King.

More than a quarter century later, Zimmer is revisiting and expanding upon his work in Jon Favreau’s remake of The Lion King, and I sat down with him last week at the film’s press junket to talk about how he was lured back into The Lion King once again, some of the changes he made to the music, his relationship to Elton John, and more. Check out our full Hans Zimmer interview below. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

 

The Lion King Beyonce music video Spirit

Whatever your feelings about the upcoming The Lion King remake, it’s hard to resist the star-studded cast behind the film’s soundtrack. Even harder to resist is the pull of Beyoncé, who is performing a highly-anticipated original song in the film and releasing an entire The Lion King-inspired album featuring collaborations from hitmakers like Pharrell, Kendrick Lamar, and Jay-Z.

Watch The Lion King Beyoncé music video for “Spirit” below, which is included in the artist’s upcoming album, The Lion King: The Gift.

Read More »