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- Donald Glover as Simba
- Beyoncé Knowles as Nala
- James Earl Jones as Mufasa
- Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar
- Billy Eichner as Timon
- Seth Rogen as Pumbaa
- John Kani as Rafiki
- John Oliver as Zazu
- Alfre Woodard as Sarabi
- Eric Andre as Azizi
- Florence Kasumba as Shenzi
- Keegan-Michael Key as Kamari
On September 28, 2016 The Walt Disney Studios and director Jon Favreau are putting a new reimagining of The Lion King on the fast track to production. The project follows the technologically groundbreaking smash hit The Jungle Book, directed by Favreau, which debuted in April and has earned $965.8 million worldwide.
The Lion King builds on Disney's success of reimagining its classics for a contemporary audience with films like Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast. The Lion King (1994) is one of the biggest animated films of all time with a lifetime global box office gross of $968.8 million, including $422.8 million domestically. It won Academy Awards for the original song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (Elton John, Tim Rice) and original score (Hans Zimmer), plus two Grammy Awards, with the soundtrack selling over 14 million copies. In 1997, the stage production The Lion King made its Broadway debut, winning six Tony Awards; 19 years later, it remains one of Broadway's biggest hits alongside several other productions running around the world, including London, Hamburg, Tokyo, Madrid, Mexico City, Shanghai, and North America. Translated into eight different languages, its 23 global productions have been seen by more than 85 million people across every continent except Antarctica. The Lion King's worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history.
In February 2017, it was announced that Donald Glover was cast a the voice of Simba, while James Earl Jones was also announced in the cast and is set to reprise his role as Mufasa. Later in April 2017, it was announced that Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner will be voicing Pumbaa and Timon respectively. While in July 2017, Disney announced that John Oliver will be voicing Zazu.
In August 2017, Alfre Woodard and John Kani were also announced as cast members of the film and were confirmed to play Sarabi and Rafiki, respectively. In November 2017, it was confirmed that Chiwetel Ejiofor will voice Scar, while Eric Andre, Florence Kasumba, and Keegan-Michael Key had also joined the cast and will be voicing the hyenas Azizi, Shenzi, and Kamari, J.D. McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph were also confirmed to be voicing Young Simba and Young Nala.
It was announced on November 1, 2017, that Hans Zimmer would return to score the film, in which having previously scored the 1994 animated version. It was also announced later in the month that Elton John (who also scored the 1994 film) had also signed onto work on the film's soundtrack as well before his retirement.
On February 9, 2018, Elton John confirmed he would be working again with Tim Rice on a new song for the end credits sung by Beyoncé. He also confirmed that four out of the five songs from the original would make it in the remake (minus "Be Prepared"). On the same day, artist Aaron Blaise announced that he was working on a picture book adaptation by Disney Publishing.
Filming began in the summer of 2017 on a blue screen stage in Los Angeles, California. Production is set to end in the middle of 2018.
- This is the third adaptation of a Walt Disney Animation Studios movie that is from the Disney Renaissance, after 2017's Beauty and the Beast and 2019's Aladdin, followed by 2020's Mulan.
- This will be Jon Favreau's second new Disney movie based on a classic Disney animated movie after directing The Jungle Book.
- James Earl Jones was the voice of Mufasa in the original animated film. He is the third actor to reprise his role for a Disney live-action adaptation of a previous Disney animated film or production after Jim Cummings (who previously voiced both Ed and the Gopher and partially provided Scar's singing voice in the original animated film) and Brad Garrett, both of who reprised Winnie the Pooh, Tigger (also voiced by Cummings since the late 1980s), and Eeyore (whom Garrett voiced previously in some Winnie the Pooh video games, such as Animated StoryBook: Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, and recently in Ralph Breaks the Internet) in 2018's Christopher Robin.
- In addition to that, the film's teaser trailer combines James Earl Jones' archival and newer recordings for his role of Mufasa.
- Banzai and Ed are the only characters from the original animated film to be renamed due to being the only characters without Swahili names excluding Scar, whose name is a sobriquet, and Nala, whose name was created for the original film.
- This will be the third Disney remake of a Disney classic to have its music score composed by the same composer as the original animated film after 2017's Beauty and the Beast and 2019's upcoming Aladdin (both of which are composed and scored by Alan Menken).
- This will be the second time that Ernie Sabella does not reprise the role of Pumbaa. The first was Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure.
- Actors Donald Glover, who voices Simba, and James Earl Jones, who voices Mufasa, both had roles in the Star Wars Saga: Glover plays young Lando Calrissian in Solo while Jones voices Darth Vader in the the main Star Wars films (except the sequel trilogy) that featured him and reprised the role in Rogue One.
- Chiwetel Ejiofor who voices Scar and Alfre Woodard who voices Sarabi previously collaborated in the Academy Award winning film, 12 Years a Slave.
- This is the second movie collaboration between Donald Glover and Chiwetel Ejiofor after The Martian.
- Billy Eichner who voices Timon and Keegan-Michael Key who voices Kamari previously worked together in The Angry Birds Movie.
- Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, John Kani, and Florence Kasumba all have roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Favreau directed two Iron Man films and plays Happy Hogan and serves as executive producer to a majority of the films in the MCU, Glover plays Aaron Davis, Ejiofor plays Baron Mordo, Woodard plays Mariah Dillard as well as Miriam Sharpe in a cameo role, while Kani and Kasumba respectively play T'Chaka and Ayo.
- This film will mark Sarabi's first full appearance in a Lion King production since the original animated film, apart from her cameos in the midquel The Lion King 1½ and two of the Timon and Pumbaa's Wild About Safety shorts.
- Leadbeater, Alex (April 25, 2017). "The Lion King Remake Gets a Summer 2019 Release Date" (Article). Screen Rant.
- Donald Glover Twitter
- "Full The Lion King Live Cast Announced". IGN (November 1, 2017).
- Jon Faverau Twitter
- Kroll, Justin (April 25, 2017). "Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner to Voice Timon and Pumbaa in Live-Action ‘Lion King’" (Article). Variety.
- "The Lion King casts its Sarabi and Rafiki". Entertainment Weekly (August 7, 2017).
- John Oliver as Zazu
- "The Lion King: Disney confirms a live-action movie is coming". Den of Geek (September 28, 2016).
- Jon Favreau Twitter
- "CAN'T WAIT TO BEY KING Theatre legend Tim Rice joins Sir Elton John and Beyonce for Lion King remake soundtrack". The Sun (February 9, 2018).
- Aaron Blaise Twitter