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The Lion King (2019)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Jake Lipson, Nov 2, 2017.

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  1. Message #1 of 288 Nov 2, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2018
    Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]
    Title: The Lion King (2019)

    Genre: Adventure, Animation, Family

    Director: Jon Favreau

    Cast: Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles, James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, John Oliver, John Kani, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Eric André, Florence Kasumba, Keegan-Michael Key, JD McCrary, Shahadi Wright Joseph

    Release Date:

    Runtime: 0

    Plot: Simba idolises his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother—and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.




    It surprises me that there isn't already a thread for this movie, but I haven't found one so here goes. A lot of people, including Disney, are referring to this as a "live-action" version, but I won't call it that since even though it is being handled by their live-action division rather than the animation side, it's going to be a completely computer-generated world and characters (at least Jungle Book had a human Mowgli), so it is, in effect, a big-budget CGI remake that is attempting to look photorealistic, but is still CGI. Let's call it what it is.

    As I mentioned in other threads around the time of Beauty and the Beast's release this past March, my feeling is that the remake is not strictly necessary -- even moreso in this case because there's nothing "live-action" about it -- but, since Disney is going to do it anyway in the name of money, there's no reason that the remake can't be good, and I hope for the best and am generally excited about it. Beauty and the Beast didn't need to be remade either, but was handled with respect and care and tuned out to be pretty great, in my opinion, especially considering the large margin of error looming over such a project. So, I hope they will aim for a similar result with The Lion King, and if we get something resembling Beauty and the Beast in terms of quality level, I'd be good with that.

    Anyway, yesterday Disney announced what they are calling the "complete cast" for the remake, but I have some concerns about it. Not all of these actors would have been my first call if I were the casting director, but I don't have a major problem with anybody there. If you haven't seen it, here it is:

    Lion King cast image.

    My concern is the absence from the list of two of the three hyenas, Bonzi (originally voiced by Cheech Martin) and Ed (originally voiced by Jim Cummings), who as of the date of this post are pictured right over there on the left above my name as my avatar. There have been some articles (such as the one from the Hollywood Reporter) that have said the new characters listed on the image as "Azizi" and "Kamari" the hyenas with new names. However, neither the image nor Disney's official website actually confirms that they are the hyenas, so I think that is an inference on the part of the article's' authors based on them being listed next to Shenzi, the third hyena from the original film who is definitely in this one. It may very well be a correct inference, but I don't think it can be taken as fact until Disney, Jon Favreau or someone else directly connected with the production makes a comment to that effect.

    Azizi and Kamari could just as easily be new characters who don't have a counterpart in the original film, such as, for example, Stanley Tucci's piano character from the new Beauty and the Beast. I actually hope that they are new, because that would indicate the movie is doing something new and will therefore offer something different and fresh, which would help justify its existence (apart from the billion-plus it's likely to gross, of course.) But...if they're just Bonzi and Ed, or fulfill Bonzi and Ed's function, why not just call them Bonzi and Ed? They've been Bonzi and Ed for 23 years and that's worked out just fine.

    I feel like it is incumbent upon Disney and/or Jon Favreau to make a statement to explain what they are doing here. I haven't got a problem with the movie changing or having unique elements (if it didn't, it would just be the original again, in which case we could just all watch our Blu-rays of that.) But if you are going to make a major change such as possibly eliminating two significant characters, it's appropriate to give the fans some insight into that. If they have indeed been renamed, that will work, although I'd still like to know the reason for the decision, but the way in which they released that information is not clear, and I think it should be clear. They need to realize that they are dealing with a much-loved property, and emotions run high when you do that. I don't mind the idea of change; I would just like to know for sure what to expect in regards to two significant characters from the original that I think are great and hilarious and endearing.

    I should also point out that The Lion King is my #2 all-time favorite film, ever (behind only Aladdin, and they're very close), so I feel very protective of it and emotionally connected to it. But I still think the fans deserve to be let in on understanding what's going on here. It's not like "Why is Luke not in The Force Awakens trailer?", where they had to withhold answers because Luke being missing was basically the entire plot of the movie. I also don't really understand how Disney could expect to release a "complete cast list" without Bonzi and Ed and not have people notice or care.

    Although not Disney, a similar situation occurred when the movie Anastasia was brought to Broadway. The villains from the movie, Rasputin and Bartok, who are major presences throughout the film, were completely eliminated from the show -- but the creators of the show got out in front of that choice. Rather than leaving fans wondering or confused, they said multiple times in multiple interviews that while they loved those characters in the movie, they were attempting a more serious take on the material for the show, and a rotting corpse and talking bat didn't fit in with what they were doing. Because they addressed it, the fans were able to know this and digest it ahead of time, instead of expecting Rasputin and Bartok and being confused about not getting them. And I love love love the score for the Broadway Anastasia and I think it works perfectly without them, and the change makes sense. So, all this to say, I'm not going to automatically turn on the new film if they've cut Bonzi and Ed, but they are a major appealing part of the original, so some clarity on the issue would be much appreciated and is in order.

    I've tweeted Jon Favreau to ask about this, and I have no idea if he'll respond or not, but it does seem like something that could easily be clarified within a tweet, and I don't really see any benefit to keeping silent. Whether he responds to me personally is not significant; it would be cool, but it's not a big deal. However, since we know he uses Twitter and has included it in a film before (Chef), it would be really easy and not terribly time consuming to send out a tweet explaining what's going on with these characters, whether directed at me or just in general to his Twitter followers as a group.

    I also should probably note here that a couple of my friends for whom Lion King is not a favorite film, who have not seen it in several years, claimed they didn't remember Bonzi and Ed when I mentioned this yesterday. I think this is due to the general tendency to refer to the hyenas as "the hyenas" and think of them as a group because they always appear together. However, if you look at the film, Bonzi and Ed are decidedly not cameo characters, and do have a lot to do, and are significant in many different scenes throughout the running time, not just one section. So I don't think it's fair to say that they are peripheral to the action, and I do think it will make a difference if they are not there. I also think that Cheech Martin and Jim Cummings did a sensational job voicing them last time, and certainly helped to make them memorable for people who like the film.

    As you can probably tell, I care very deeply about this, and I want the film to be good and I want to like it. I was really impressed with Jon Favreau's Jungle Book, and it will be fun to see what he does here.

    Just...where are Bonzi and Ed?

    As an aside, It's also worth noting that despite similar articles claiming that the cast for Aladdin is complete (albeit no cast image from Disney for that one), the roles of Iago and Abu have not been filled for that movie, either. Even though I really like him, I could see them cutting out Abu -- they did for the Broadway show to nominal effect -- but Iago is a much larger role than Abu, and they did keep him in the Broadway show, and it's difficult for me to imagine an Aladdin remake in which he is not present. But they're already shooting that and have made no statement about him. (He would likely be a CGI character, so an actor wouldn't need to be on the set, but still.) Twice is a pattern, and it appears Disney is either messing with or being unclear about their sidekick villains in their remakes, and I just really wish they would clear that up.

    But I'm still looking forward to the movies. Just...what the heck, Disney?
     
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  2. warnerbro

    warnerbro Supporting Actor

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    Any word yet if this will have the great new songs from the Broadway musical like Shadowlands, etc.
     
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  3. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    Great question. Answer: No....and by no, I mean, no, there has not been word...not a definitive "no, they won't be there." It's worth noting that the girl who is voicing young Nala, Shahadi Wright Joseph (who was also Little Inez in NBC's recent Hairspray Live broadcast last year) played young Nala onstage in New York, too. However, the Beauty and the Beast remake did not use any of its new songs from Broadway (except for an instrumental version of "Home" when Belle first sees her room.)
     
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  4. warnerbro

    warnerbro Supporting Actor

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    I was very disappointed when they didn't use "Home" and "If I Can't Love Her" from the Broadway musical in the new live-action version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Those songs became the very heart of that musical for me. And why make a live-action version if you're not going to use the improvements and great songs added in the stage version.
     
  5. Message #5 of 288 Nov 3, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2017
    Jake Lipson

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    "Home" was actually in the Beauty and the Beast remake -- as an instrumental -- when Belle first enters her room.

    I love those songs, too, but I get why they weren't there. "Home" is a monologue song where Belle stops the show to express what she's feeling and sing to herself. That works wonderfully in a theatre where you've got two and a half hours to fill and that's expected. However, in a movie, stopping the plot in order to have a song wouldn't work as well; the songs they kept in the movie largely advance the storytelling during the songs. And, as Alan Menken said in interviews around the time of the release, If I Can't Love Her was written as a curtain closer for the act break, and there isn't an act break in a film.

    I think Favreau selecting a stage actress to voice Young Nala demonstrates that he is certainly looking at elements of the stage production and will use what he sees fit, but I also don't think he should automatically add in everything jut because he can if he doesn't think it will work for his vision of the story.

    If it were me, and Disney allowed it, I would put in
    Scar propositioning and then attempting to rape Nala when she rebuffs him.
    This is in the stage version as part of The Madness of King Scar song and was based on a deleted scene from the original film which is available to watch on the Blu-ray. This is directly plot-related as it explains in more detail why Nala left at the time she did, and beefs up the adult portion of her role for Beyonce to have something new and significant to play.

    I also sort of feel like you don't get an actress of Alfre Woodard's distinction and have her in three scenes with 15 lines, so I wouldn't be surprised if Sarabi is given more of a prominent role in the remake. (In the original, Simba wakes her up with Mufasa, she gives Simba permission to go to the "watering hole" with Nala if Zazu babysits and then disappears until Scar attacks her in the climax.) Plus, Favreau already greatly expanded the role of Mowgli's mother in his Jungle Book remake from a silent cameo in the '67 version to something extremely significant for the remake once he got Lupita Nyong'o to play her. So, it wouldn't be the first time a mother's role was greatly expanded on his watch.

    I was watching the original the other day and thought, also, that there might be an opening for an additional sequence if we actually see Mufasa deal with the hyenas (assuming they're there) when he is alerted to their presence during Zazu's morning report/pouncing lesson scene. The gopher tells Zazu, Zazu tells Mufasa and Mufasa runs off to handle the situation, but we never see it. This probably is because they wanted to save the reveal of the hyenas for when Simba and Nala encounter them in the elephant graveyard, but since this is a remake and we've all seen the original, holding off on that might not be necessary this time around if they wanted to show Mufasa's first encounter with them as a means of adding something new that wasn't there before.
     
  6. Message #6 of 288 Nov 4, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
    Jake Lipson

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    With this article, The Hollywood Reporter seems to have caught onto what I've been saying ever since this project was announced (and which I brought up in the first post of this thread.)

    The new Lion King will be an extremely technologically sophisticated computer-generated animated film. It is NOT a live-action film, and would be incorrect to label it as such, even though that is what Disney is doing.

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/is-disneys-new-lion-king-an-animated-film-1054516

    The article calls it into question more as a debate, but I think it's actual relatively simple, personally. If everything on the screen is virtual and it's all animated, then it's an animated film.

    As I mentioned earlier, The Jungle Book at least had a live human playing Mowgli (although the rest of it surrounding him is essentially an animated film), but The Lion King is a different case because none of the characters in it are humans, therefore there will 0% of the movie featuring live humans on camera as humans.

    This is why I'm even more perplexed and skeptical about this movie happening than I was about Jungle Book when it was announced. However, they're obviously doing it anyway for financial reasons, and so I hope it can also be creatively fulfilling, too, mostly because I want to hope for the best. They are certainly off to an impressive start with that cast up there in the graphic in the first post.

    Your thoughts?
     
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  7. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    It's probably safer for the lion trainers this way :D

    But I had basically thought all of the same when this was announced. "Photorealistic" would be a more accurate description than "live action".
     
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  8. Message #8 of 288 Nov 4, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
    Jake Lipson

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    Yes, absolutely, and that is what I am calling it too. But Disney wants to call it live-action, probably because if they called it animated, a lot of people would question the point of it. So it's being called a live-action remake for marketing purposes.

    The article points out that The Jungle Book could have been submitted for Best Animated Feature, which is absolutely correct, because it more than meets the requirement that 75% or more of the film be animated and a large number of the characters be animated. It wasn't because Disney chose not to submit it as they want it to be interpreted by the general public as a live-action feature, even though we internet movie geeks know it was photorealistic CGI animation (plus Mowgli.

    The same will be true with The Lion King, only there won't be any Mowgli with a live-action element. Disney does not want to submit it as an animated feature because the perception of an animated remake would not be helpful to them, but the perception of a live-action remake would. They'd much rather win Best Visual Effects for it than Bet Animated Feature.

    Plus, in 2019 they'll have both Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2 competing for the animation prize.
     
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  9. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Lead Actor
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    Di$ney at its best.
     
  10. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    Well, yeah, absolutely, but that doesn't automatically preclude the new movie from being good, especially if they make some new and inventive choices in the telling.
     
  11. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Edwin isn't a fan of Disney so don't expect him to agree with you.
     
  12. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    I don't need to be agreed with on that point. I'm just stating my opinion. Edwin is, of course, 100% completely welcome to his own.
     
  13. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I'm just saying that Edwin sees the worst in Disney which is why he has the dollars sign in his typed name for them. He thinks they treat their consumers like crap and to an extent, he's right.
     
  14. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    But I mean, the same could be said for just about any studio. To give two generic examples... One,all of the studios (not just Disney) made a major push for 3D in the home circa 2010-2012, and when those efforts didn't yield the excesses of profit they wanted, they've started pulling the plug despite those who did adopt it. Two, most studios are now intentionally putting inferior audio tracks on their regular Blu-rays to force consumers who upgraded to Atmos over the past few years to have to upgrade to UHD to continue to get those Atmos tracks, which until recently were on the Blu-ray. Outside of movies but within the realm of studios, pretty much every studio is dropping the ball on TV On BD releases. I can't think of any major studio where customer satisfaction, on an individual level, is a priority. You have to extend out to the boutique labels to get that, and then there are compromises at that level - you have some smaller labels that release a lot of product but can't afford the expenses to refurbish all of that product to prime condition, and others who release less product but charge a very high premium for it. On the digital side of things, for every theoretical benefit that the new Movies Anywhere program is supposed to bring, it's been a confusing and bug-filled launch that has disrupted digital collections which studios previously assured us were permanent.

    At least Disney is still making quality pictures and taking good care of their franchises. I like the Marvel movies the Star Wars movies; they're not my favorite two series of all time, but Disney has taken great care of them. Meanwhile, the one that probably is my favorite series, Star Trek, is stuck with a studio that wants Disney-style grosses but is completely unwilling to put the effort into the franchise and fanbase that Disney is, and then takes out that disappointment in not grossing those numbers on their fans by producing less material and being less engaged.

    I just don't think Disney is any worse than some of the other players. If anything, it just may seem that way because Disney has a disproportionate amount of beloved properties.
     
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  15. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I agree with Edwin on that point.
     
  16. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Jake, maybe you'd know the answer to this.

    Has any announcement been made about the film's score? I gather that they're going to keep the Elton John/Tim Rice songs, but I wonder about the Hans Zimmer score. It's incredible work by Zimmer, and to me, it's as much a part of the movie as the songs are. I've been hooked on the new live Hans Zimmer concert BD that just came out (I saw him live earlier in the summer in a very similar performance and was blown away by it), and when he performs a suite of music from The Lion King, it's truly a stunning moment.
     
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  17. Message #17 of 288 Nov 16, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
    Jake Lipson

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    I do not know the answer to that but agree with you. I presume that, in the same way that Alan Menken scored the new Beauty and the Beast film, they are almost obligated to go to Hans Zimmer and ask him to score the new film, which presumably would include some of his old material and some new material. But that's just a guess. As far as I know, Disney has not made any official announcements about the new film's music.

    I don't see why they would go to anyone else other than Zimmer to score the new film, as long as he is available and willing (and if he's not, they own his old material so could use it regardless, although I'd much prefer him to take a fresh look at things for the new film, even though some of his old material will obviously be Incorporated.) Whether Disney will think like us and will do the correct, logical thing here, I don't know.

    There was a rumor I heard a while back that Beyonce will produce the soundtrack album for the movie as well as voicing Nala, and that this is why her deal took so long to close because there were deal points to be worked out for the music side of things in addition to her acting side voice work. But Disney never confirmed that so I'm treating it as a rumor at this point. Apparently they want Beyonce to be the "Elton John" of the new soundtrack in terms of being in charge of it musically. But shouldn't Elton John be Elton John for this film as he was for the last one?

    I *do* know about Tim Rice because I tweeted him to ask about his involvement and he kindly sent me a direct response on July 21 this year. I wanted to know if he was going to do anything else new for the new film. His response said:

    This came direct from him on his verified Twitter account, so we know it's real. I think it is extremely troubling that information should be hard for him to obtain, because he is the lyricist and should be intimately involved in any decision-making process about new songs. But apparently he is not, or at least, was not as of July when he tweeted me that.

    I then tweeted to Jon Favreau's official account and tagged Tim Rice in it and suggested that Favreau should talk to him. Unlike Rice, Favreau did not respond to me, soI don't know if that did any good or not, but I did it.

    As an aside, my question to him about The Lion King came out of an earlier question I had when it was announced that Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are the new lyricists for the Aladdin remake. I understand that Howard Ashman is unfortunately no longer with us and therefore he can't come back to it, but Tim Rice wrote four songs in the original film and is very much alive and working, and jut did the new Beauty and the Beast songs with Alan Menken. So it seems odd to me that they would ask Pasek and Paul over him, even though Pasek and Paul are hot right now and do good work. When asked by me what his involvement with the new Aladdin is, Tim Rice's respone was

    That is when I followed up with the question about whether he was doing TLK again. The idea that he wouldn't be involved is basically unfathomable to me, but thee you go.

    Disney owns the songs from the original film (as well as the three new ones he wrote for the Broadway musical, if they want to use those), so they technically don't need Tim Rice to be involved in order to use those per-existing songs. But I think it's bad form not to have him involved, personally, especially on Lion King where he was the sole lyricist for the previous film. For Aladdin, I would reach out to him but it makes slightly more sense since he hasn't done anything on that since 1992 and was only replacing Howard Ashman to finish things up. But on The Lion King, where he was there from the beginning (and it was his idea to bring on Elton John as his songwriting partner), it really does set off an alarm bell for me that he wasn't one of the first calls Disney made on the new film.
     
  18. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I sincerely hope that's not the case, but that does make sense as an explanation. Let's just say I am not a fan, and her involvement is one of those things that could really push me into "I have no interest in seeing this" territory. (It has nothing to do with her politics or publicly voiced opinions and everything to do with simply not enjoying any of the work she puts out and then having that work that I don't enjoy playing everywhere, inescapably, all the time.) I don't want Beyonce associated with something that I cherish. But that ship has clearly sailed.

    That's cool about getting a response from Tim Rice. I wouldn't worry yet about his involvement or non-involvement. If they're still at the scripting stage, they just may not know if another song will be needed. It may be one of those things where as the film starts coming together, they might then decide "Oh, this could use some more music here" or "It plays perfectly as is". And due to nondisclosures, Rice might have been trying to be a little vague just because he may not have a choice. At any rate - the songs from the original film are perfect. I think the added-later "Morning Report" is terrible and replaces a funny bit of business with an unfunny song. I'd love to avoid a repeat of that!
     
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  19. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    The Morning Report was originally written for the Broadway show and it's a very funny song and works well in that, where you obviously need to have more than five songs for a full evening of theatre. However, I agree that adding it to the movie was a terrible choice, not only because it actually replaced dialogue, but even moreso because the actors playing young Simba and Zazu were different than in 1994, which made it stand out in a bad way for being inconsistent with the movie surrounding it.

    The fact that it has not been integrated into the film on either Blu-ray edition of the film seems to indicate that the filmmakers feel that it was a mistake to add in also. This sounds crazy to me, but I wonder if somebody in Disney's home entertainment division thought, "The Lion King is the highest-selling videotape of all time. We have to put something new in there or people won't feel the need to buy it again on DVD" and requested the addition from the filmmakers, rather than them coming up with the idea organically. The reasoning is obviously flawed and did not take into account the significant increase in quality of DVD over VHS, but it wouldn't surprise me if that's what happened.
     
  20. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Didn't it get added for the IMAX release in the early 2000s? I missed that one theatrically but I thought that was the impetus behind the "special edition" additions for both this and Beauty.
     

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