Walt Disney Pictures have recently announced that Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book) is set to direct a new reimagining of Walt Disney Feature Animation classic The Lion King (1994). Favreau had cheekily Tweeted a hint of his next project with a couple of emojis, which was swiftly confirmed by an official Disney press release.
Favreau is still basking in the billion dollar afterglow of his wildly successful live action and digital effects blended The Jungle Book (1967) remake, and it is safe to assume he will redeploy the same digital effects heavy performance capture methods for The Lion King. That said, without any human characters, there may be no live action elements at all this time around.
This announcement is just the latest in a long line of modern updates to Disney's animated back catalogue, following the box office success of Maleficent (2014), Cinderella (2015), and indeed Favreau's The Jungle Book (the latter of which is due a sequel, with Favreau still technically attached to direct).
The original Lion King, loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, was released in 1994 at the peak of Disney's 1990s renaissance, and remains the highest grossing hand drawn animated film of all time. It became almost as famous for its Grammy and Academy Award® winning Elton John and Tim Rice soundtrack, and spawned a successful Broadway musical which has run for 19 years.
The new film will also include songs from the film, in keeping with the practice of most of Disney's recent remakes, but the press release does not mention if any of the songs introduced to the stage show will make it on screen.
There is no word on an exact release date as yet, but since Walt Disney Pictures are putting this into fast track production, expect a whole new generation of children to be singing Hakuna Matata at full volume near you very soon.