The Lion King live-action remake was a huge success for Disney. Released back in July, the Jon Favreau-directed film has brought in more than $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office and with a Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score of 88%, it's clear that the film has its fans. Elton John, who composed the original songs for the beloved 1994 animated film, is not one of them. According to John, the live-action version "messed the music up" leaving the film a huge disappointment to him.
In a recent interview with British GQ in support of his new memoir, Me, John had little nice to say about the film, particularly the music. He claims that the "magic and joy" of the original was completely lost in the new film.
"The new version of The Lion King was a huge disappointment to me, because I believe they messed the music up," John said. "Music was so much a part of the original and the music in the current film didn't have the same impact. The magic and joy were lost. The soundtrack hasn't had nearly the same impact in the charts that it had 25 years ago, when it was the bestselling album of the year."
John went on to say that he wasn't welcomed or given the same kind of respect he had previously when it came to involvement in the remake.
"The new soundtrack fell out of the charts so quickly, despite the massive box-office success," John continued. "I wish I'd been invited to the part more, but the creative vision for the film and its music was different this time around and I wasn't really welcomed or treated with the same level of respect. That makes me extremely sad. I'm so happy that the right spirit for the music lives on with the Lion King stage musical."
There's a bit to unpack in John's statements about the music of The Lion King remake. In terms of the music in the most recent film, much of it matches to the animated classic's music, just with updated performances to reflect the new cast. There are new songs included as well -- including one from John himself -- but those songs didn't replace anything, according to what Favreau told Fandango earlier this year. When it comes to the sales aspect of the album, part of that could be attributed to simply a difference in eras. How consumers purchased and experienced music in 1994 is vastly different than it is in 2019. Add to that, Disney made the soundtrack available to stream for free via its official DisneyMusicVEVO YouTube channel. Using the sale of the soundtrack might not be the best indicator of a score's impact.
That said, John isn't alone in his criticism of the film. Critics weren't particularly wowed by it for a variety of reasons. Most critics cited that the film didn't have the same emotional depth that the original had -- with several noting a lack of energy in even the musical performances.
You can decide for yourself how you feel about the music of the live-action The Lion King. The film is currently available on Digital HD and will be released on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD on October 22.0comments
What do you think about John's comments about The Lion King? Let us know in the comments below.
Image credit: Lewis Joly/Getty Images, Walt Disney Studios