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The Live-Action Lion King Movie Is Getting A Sequel From ‘Moonlight’ Director Barry Jenkins

The Walt Disney Studios has set Oscar winner Barry Jenkins to direct the studio’s follow-up to the 2019 blockbuster The Lion King. Jeff Nathanson, who scripted the last installment, is back in the fold and has completed an initial draft of script. Jenkins won the Oscar for scripting the Best Picture winner Moonlight and was nominated for adapting If Beale Street Could Talk (he directed both).

The film will continue with the photo-realistic technology that director Jon Favreau used in the 2019 film and 2016’s The Jungle Book. There is no release date set for The Lion King follow-up or for the production start, but it is understandably a top priority for Sean Bailey’s division after the last film grossed $1.6 billion worldwide.

The live action Lion King was, well, disappointing to say the least. Disney hyped up the MASSIVE, incredibly talented cast that as well as all the revolutionary technology being used to get photorealistic wildlife. The tech was most certainly cool, as it did look very realistic. The cast, however, was WASTED in that movie that really lacked any semblance of a soul. It was just a shot-for-shot remake of the original animated movie where none of the cast members were able to lend any sort of individuality to it. Not that the criticism of myself or most moviegoers matters, as the movie made 1.6 billion right in our stupid faces. 

There is no quicker way to get a sequel right into my good graces than attaching Barry Jenkins, though. He is one of the most incredible artists working in the business right now and hasn't put out a miss yet. Besides getting some Oscar gold for ‘Moonlight’ last years ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ was a huuuuge Oscar snub IMO as it was one of the most beautiful and emotional movies I can remember seeing. 

I don’t really think the shortcomings of the first movie have a ton to do with director Jon Favreau as much as studio meddling. So, presumably, Disney has learned their lesson with this hiring. I don’t thing you bring a guy like Barry Jenkins onboard if you’re not going to give him creative control to give the movie some much needed heart and soul. I know we’re early on, but I can wait.

The real question is who is going to direct the live-action ‘Lion King 1-1/2’, which I assume must be in the works considering the INSANE success of the animated version.