While leaving the theater after watching Jon Favreau’s The Lion King (adding to the film’s soon-to-be $1 billion gross at the box office), I overheard a conversation between a father and his son. “I love how he realistic the movie looked,” the dad said, “unlike that cartoon.” There’s a lot of things wrong with that sentiment — beginning with diminishing the artistic and creative achievement of the 1994 animated film as “that cartoon” — but what he said was also factually incorrect: there’s only one “real” shot in The Lion King.
“This is the only real shot in [The Lion King]. There are 1,490 rendered shots created by animators and CG artists. I slipped in one single shot that we actually photographed in Africa to see if anyone would notice. It is the first shot of the movie that begins The Circle of Life,” director Favreau revealed. It’s one of the more iconic shots in Disney movie history, with the “sun rolling high through the sapphire sky,” as the song goes, and it’s stunning in both films.
This is the only real shot in #TheLionKing. There are 1490 rendered shots created by animators and CG artists. I slipped in one single shot that we actually photographed in Africa to see if anyone would notice. It is the first shot of the movie that begins The Circle of Life. pic.twitter.com/CO0spSyCv4
— Jon Favreau (@Jon_Favreau) July 26, 2019
As for why Favreau didn’t stray too far from the original (it’s a shot-for-shot remake at times), he explained, “Everybody’s got their own formula. I’m not saying this is the way you do it, but it’s the way I’ve done it. You don’t want to reinvent it completely. You want people to see it and be able to say, ‘I saw The Lion King.’ Just like when I went to see the play. I went to see the play. I had seen the movie, and I said, ‘I saw The Lion King.’ Now the play is an hour longer and has different songs, different scenes but somehow it captured the essence of the film. You would casually say it’s the same exact story.”
I will only be impressed if he makes The Lion King 1½ next.