We are just over two weeks away from the next big Disney installment (The Lion King) to release and we all are under the impression that it is simply a question of "How big the movie would be?" The LA premiere is scheduled for next Tuesday and the review ban would drop soon after that. So, sooner or later we are going to know about how the Jon Favreau-directed adaptation plays both compared to the original 1994 cartoon and on its own artistic merits. After Aladdin soared well above expectations (it'll be passing $900 million any day now), we speculate that the Disney Kingdom is looking pretty confident for this one.
The only real "threat" is the hyperbolic expectations of people that are putting Disney on the back foot, especially if the reviews are strong, if the movie merely performs "very well." Are Jurassic World numbers ($652 million domestic and $1.671 billion worldwide) in play? Sure, without question, especially as it and Hobbs & Shaw would still be the ongoing big movies "not R-rated" tent poles until Maleficent: Mistress of Evil in mid-October. But it's also possible that it'll end up somewhere between The Jungle Book ($966 million) and Beauty and the Beast ($1.263 billion).
Anyway, Walt Disney just dropped some gorgeous new character posters from The Lion King. Like what they did with The Jungle Book three years ago, the images are pairing up the vocal talent with the animal whom they portray. It's not an exact copy of those Jungle Book photos, but the trick is the same. One of the big hooks of this new version is the notion of these specific actors playing these iconic characters, a classic "star + character" sell that has helped Disney pull ahead of the theatrical pack. So the images, along with the featured actors, which would help the audience to understand the connection between the characters and the voices behind them.
For that, we got Donald Glover with Simba, Beyonce Knowles-Carter with Nala, John Oliver, Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner with Zazu, Pumbaa and Timon, Chiwetel Ejiofor with Scar, Alfre Woodard with Sarabi, Eric Andre, Florence Kasumba and Keegan-Michael Key with hyenas Azizi, Shenzi and Kamari, and Shahadi Wright Joseph and JD McCrary with Young Nala and Young Simba.
That highlights that, yes, this might be another huge Disney featured movie with a majority of black cast. That recipe led to Disney's biggest domestic grosser in 2018 (Black Panther) and one of their biggest global whiffs (A Wrinkle in Time) as well. The Lion King, should face less competition from the Wakanda epic and the better reviews would likely bring a result closer to the Ryan Coogler flick than the Ava DuVernay fantasy. And the $875 million-and-counting success of Aladdin shows that throwing folks who look more like Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott than Billy Magnusson into lead roles in a big movie that audiences already want to see both doesn't scare off general moviegoers and creates a demographically-specific event out of the affair.
The only issue, and this is really nitpicking, is whether the photo realistic animals would create a less visual pleasant experience compared to the gorgeous hand-drawn animations from the first movie back in 1994. At the very least, turning Chiwetel Ejiofor into a beaten-down and worn-out (read - old and ugly) Scar removes one of Disney's core advantages, which is their knack for offering "thirst-quenching" villains. Maybe Ejiofor's vocals would be enough, and all of us can't wait to hear his version of "Be Prepared," but we also think that it won't inspire the same levels of online lust as Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Gaston (Luke Evans) or Hella (Cate Blanchett).
Anyway, these images are gorgeous and we would like you to have a look at it as well. The Lion King opens on July 12 in China and July 19 in North America. Everybody is looking pretty excited because of this movie since for many it would be another animated movie, but, for many it would be the relieving of the olden days. The authentic music and styles have been kept as it is to keep the roots intact with the previous audience and the current ones. We could just speculate that the movie is going to be a super-hit when it hits the theatres.