Well, here’s some news that the film world was surely expecting to break on this Tuesday: According to Deadline, Barry Jenkins will be directing a sequel to the “live-action” remake of The Lion King, which hit theaters in 2019 and made a healthy profit despite being, you know, fucking terrible. Yes, you read that right: Jenkins, the man who directed Moonlight, Medicine for Melancholy and If Beale Street Could Talk, is going to be doing a continuation of the most bizarrely thought-out and fundamentally hamstrung Disney remake until Mulan came out and raised the bar for all bad ideas from the House of Mouse. We’re honestly just kind of stunned by this.
For those assuming that, having watched the direct-to-video sequels in the ’90s, they know what’s going on, well, it looks like Disney’s throwing all that non-canon stuff out the window (hey, if it worked for Star Wars…). Here’s information about the plot from Deadline, which seems to be all over the place, all things considered.
“They are keeping the logline under wraps, but I’m told that the story will further explore the mythology of the characters, including Mufasa’s origin story. Moving the story forward while looking back conjures memories of ‘The Godfather: Part II,’ set on the African plain with a continuation of the tradition of music that was a key part of the 1994 animated classic, the 2019 film and the blockbuster Broadway stage transfer.”
And here’s Jenkins on what drew him to the project:
“Helping my sister raise two young boys during the ’90s, I grew up with these characters[.] Having the opportunity to work with Disney on expanding this magnificent tale of friendship, love and legacy while furthering my work chronicling the lives and souls of folk within the African diaspora is a dream come true.”
We do wonder if this is a “one for them, one for us” situation, where a director does some gun-for-hire stuff in order to finance a project that they actually give a shit about, and the Deadline article does support that thesis, somewhat. According to them, Jenkins also has a biopic in the works about the legendary Alvin Alley with Searchlight Pictures, and this could be a way to guarantee returns on their investment, much like it seems every filmmaker tangled in their web seems to be nowadays. But who knows! Maybe Jenkins will work his magic and create something wonderful with the technology that Jon Favreau helped bring to the mainstream, and we’ll have something to celebrate when this Lion King sequel finally does hit. We don’t have a crystal ball, after all.