Everything old is new again in Hollywood and no greater evidence of that fact is the spate of silver screen revivals coming fast and furious from the House of Mouse. The enviable worldwide box office receipts of recent live-action revivals of CINDERELLA, THE JUNGLE BOOK and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to the collective tune of $2 billion is proof in the pudding that audiences are lapping up the opportunity to revisit the popular properties that informed their childhoods, while also introducing the internationally recognized entities to an entirely new generation. This holiday weekend, Disney offered the preliminary glimpse of the silver screen reboot of a particularly beloved animated masterpiece from 1994, THE LION KING, to universal adulation.
Ostensibly based upon Shakespeare's HAMLET, the 32nd animated feature film in Disney's formidable canon of family classics achieved worldwide acclaim in its debut, amassing nearly $1 billion in its original theatrical run. Showcasing an Academy Award-winning score by Elton John, Tim Rice and Hans Zimmer, THE LION KING boasts one of the most powerful soundtracks of any Disney film - certainly, no small feat given the ubiquitous catalog the company has amassed. Subsequently, the innovative 1997 stage adaptation of the tale of Pride Rock denizens directed by avant garde theatre artist Julie Taymor managed to have an even bigger impact, eventually becoming the most financially successful musical in Broadway history, taking home the Tony Award for Best Musical and packing audiences in to this very day in productions around the world.
Stuffed to the brim with star power worthy of royalty, director Jon Favreau's 21st century take on THE LION KING features the voice talents of Donald Glover, Beyonce, Seth Rogan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, Billy Eichner, Keegan-Michael Kay, Alfre Woodard and James Earl Jones, the latter reprising his iconic role from the first film. The songstack will include many musical chestnuts from the original big screen version and stage show as well as newly-composed material by John, Rice and Zimmer. With the teaser trailer having already amassed nearly 250 million views since its debut on Thanksgiving - already one of the most-viewed movie trailers in history - it seems fair to wager that Disney has a hit of massive proportions in its paws. The release date is set for July 19, 2019, marking the 25th anniversary of the original film's release.
While original material is becoming increasingly scarce to discover in tent-pole entertainment, whether in Hollywood or on Broadway, a startlingly technologically advanced re-interpretation of a milestone as magnificent as THE LION KING is unquestionably something to make audiences cheer - and roar