“The Lion King” is on its way back to theaters, but not as we once knew it. Disney has announced that it is developing a live-action version of the 1994 animated classic. It will be directed by Jon Favreau, the same man who earned critical raves and box office success with his live-action remake of “The Jungle Book” earlier in 2016.
That new edition of “The Jungle Book” earned nearly $1 billion worldwide, so it’s no surprise that Disney is mining its catalog for more potential live-action remakes, and “The Lion King” seems like an especially lucrative choice. It has made $968 million at the worldwide box office since 1994, and it won two Oscars from four nominations: Best Original Score (Hans Zimmer) and Best Original Song (“Can You Feel the Love Tonight” by Elton John and Tim Rice). [By the way, the Oscars did not introduce the Best Animated Feature award till 2001.]
“The Lion King” has already proved adaptable to different formats. A stage version opened on Broadway in November 1997, and it’s still running 19 years later. That production won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical (Julie Taymor).
Disney has been re-imagining its past hits for years. In addition to “The Jungle Book” and now “The Lion King,” the studio has made “Maleficent” (2014), “Cinderella” (2015) and the upcoming “Beauty and the Beast” (2017) starring Emma Watson as Belle and “Downton Abbey” alum Dan Stevens as the Beast.
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