The Latest Trailer For The Lion King Feels Like A Souped-Up Episode Of Our Planet
So far, Disney’s live-action remake strategy is going pretty well for the studio. When it comes to box office numbers, the resulting films are reliable big hitters: family friendly, nostalgic and generally easy to watch, they appeal to almost every demographic, or at least anyone who spent their youth watching the studio’s animated films on VHS. Since the release of its first live-action remake, Alice In Wonderland, in 2010, the studio’s reimaginings of its own classics have made more than $2 billion for itself. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s decided to start churning them out them out in rapid succession.
From a creative perspective, these remakes present an opportunity for Disney to elevate its original material, whether that’s through telling a different version of the story, as in 2014’s Maleficent, or simply making the plot more sophisticated. But one of the most exciting things to behold in these films is the ever-advancing CGI. Put the vision of a blue, genie-fied Will Smith in the Aladdin trailer out of your mind and stay with me. Or just cast your eyes below to the first full-length trailer for The Lion King.
If you watch it on silent, some shots could almost pass for footage from Our Planet. Simba peering over a rock at a beetle looks so lifelike that I almost want to reach out to smooth down his flyaway fur; the stampeding gazelles make me suspicious that real footage from the Sahara might have actually been weaved into the trailer; the detail in the landscapes is so precise that it’s difficult to take everything in. It is, quite simply, astonishing.
In terms of the plot, the trailer doesn’t reveal much, but, by the looks of things, we can probably expect it to stay true to the original animated film. Usually, I’d view this as a bad thing – for example, the lack of originality in the live-action remake of Cinderella made the film a bit of a disappointment – but, in this instance, I’m oddly placated by the mesmerising realism of the CGI. The new version of The Lion King looks as though it’s going to be a cinematic experience that combines the best parts of nature documentaries with one of the most beloved tales of recent history, and that can’t be a bad thing. Oh, and it also stars Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Seth Rogen, to name just a few. You already know that you’re going to buy a ticket to see this film come summer.
While the trailer still doesn’t give us a preview of Glover or Beyoncé’s voiceover work in action, we are treated to a taste of The Lion King OG James Earl Jones’ return to the role of Mufasa, as well as Ejiofor’s menacing portrayal of Scar. Rogen and Billy Eichner also turn up at the end as Timon and Pumbaa for a fleeting but feel-good rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.
Over the next year, Aladdin and Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil will land in cinemas, with a new version of Mulan to come in 2020, but no Disney live-action drop is as hotly anticipated as The Lion King. When the teaser for the film first landed in November, it broke the YouTube record for the most-viewed teaser trailer in 24 hours. The staged musical version of the film has been running both on Broadway and the West End for two decades and has made more than $7.85 bn. The Lion King property alone is more lucrative than all of Disney’s remakes put together. With that in mind, there’s no wonder that Disney has paid attention to the details.
The Lion King will be released on 19 July, just in time for the summer holidays, but until then, you can always remind yourself of the plot by watching the original film or the stage show. “Hakuna Matata” never gets old and returning to this story will make you feel as though you won’t too – at least in spirit.