You know that shadowy place Mufasa was telling Simba about in The Lion King? That’s where 2020 dwells.
This year has provided non-stop surprises and most of them have been bad (and downright devastating), but miracles happen every day. With this latest news, I was pleasantly surprised. What is the news? According to Deadline, Barry Jenkins is directing the sequel to The Lion King 2019 reboot.
Now, I wasn’t exactly enthused about what has been dubbed the “live-action” (or is it???) reboot of my favorite Disney animated film and chalked it up to a sheer nostalgia grab, but when you say the name, “Barry Jenkins,” ...well, you have my attention.
“Helping my sister raise two young boys during the ’90s, I grew up with these characters,” Jenkins said in a statement. “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.”
So, what do we know about this film? Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. reports:
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.
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.
Because we’re an imaginative bunch at The Root, we didn’t look at any loglines or any mysterious source-based predictive synopsis before our minds went wild on what a Jenkins-helmed Lion King would look like. Would it include one of his patented character closeups of a majestic lion set to a somber yet romantic Nicholas Britell score? Will it feature the fabulous song “Not One Of Us” (it has to, y’all saw that zebra singing “disgraaaaaace” for its life)?
We do know that it’ll be pretty melancholy. In fact, Very Smart Brothas Senior Editor Panama Jackson dubbed the sequel, The Lion King 2: More Medicine for More Melancholy on Beale Street by Moonlight.
It’ll be arthouse as fuck, too. This will be following another Disney film related to The Lion King, Black Is King, and Beyoncé voiced Nala, so there you go. The great circle of life.
“I feel like the whole shit will be filmed in one of those sepia-toned IG filters, with logs of sluggish lions searching for purpose...like no bullshit, I could see a West Side Story version of The Lion King happening. Like, what if he’s in control of the soundtrack? My God. Frank Ocean might do the whole thing, instead of “Pyramids,” it’s “Pride Rocks,” Panama Jackson said.
Staff writer Anne Branigin proposes the film be drawn in the style of Marco The Artist’s Pridelands series. You’ve seen them before—the bad bitch Disney art? That.
After a collective implosion from The Root Slack, staff writer Joe Jurado said the art looked like “pitch document for Tyler Perry Presents: The Lion King,” to which Panama titled the hypothetical Tyler film, Roar.
How did we get here? Nobody’s supposed to be here! Back to Barry Jenkins…
Jenkins is set for another film with Disney—an Alvin Ailey biopic. In addition to that he, André Holland and Steven Soderbergh are reviving Cinemax’s The Knick. The man is busy. The director king has returned!