Walt Disney Studios certainly has a knack for turning their animated classics into live-action cash cows. Globally, the Angelina Jolie-led Maleficent grossed $758.5 million, Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella scooped up $543.5 million, Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book came up only $34 million shy of hitting a billion, and Beauty and the Beast -- starring Emma Watson -- has already surpassed the billion dollar milestone.
The studio was so elated with work Favreau put into The Jungle Book that it hired him to helm a live-action adaptation of one of its greatest animated adventures of all time: The Lion King (1994). Although only a few actors have been cast, so far, production on it is expected to begin next month.
On Friday, while speaking at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, Favreau opened up about how he's using what he learned from The Jungle Book and applying it to his next project. "With Lion King, people really know [the original], and they grew up with it and it has emotional impact," Favreau explained (via EW). "I think about what I remember about The Lion King? I did it with Jungle Book [too]. [I asked myself], 'What do I remember about [the 1967 version of] The Jungle Book? I remember Mowgli and the snake. I remember the snake's eyes. I remember Baloo going down the river and Mowgli riding on him like a raft. I made a big list, and those are the images we definitely needed… and you have more latitude to shift and change those things."
"The Jungle Book was 50 years ago, Lion King was 20, and people grew up with it in an age of video where they watched it over and over again. So, I have to really examine all of those plot points," he added. "Also, the myths are very strong in it, so you're hitting something even deeper than the movie sometimes. What I'm trying to do is honor what was there… There are certain expectations people have."
He also reflected on Prince's Super Bowl halftime performance in 2007, noting how the legendary musician wow over the crowd by playing fan-favorites as people remember them or even better than they remembered. "It's about the audience having the experience they're hoping they have, and if you can surprise them along the way, they'll enjoy it even more," he offered, "but you gotta live up to what [people] want, so you get greater pressure with these beloved stories."
Based on those comments, fans of the original can expect the remake to include the heartbreaking death of King Mufasa, the unforgettable songs ("Circle of Life," "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," and "Hakuna Matata") and Simba's comical jungle guardians: a warthog named Pumbaa and a meerkat named Timon.
Disney's live-action remake of The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book) and written by Jeff Nathanson (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), is scheduled to go into production this May.
The Lion King (1994) - An unforgettable story, breathtaking animation, beloved characters and award-winning music sets the stage for The Lion King, a Disney classic that follows the adventures of Simba, the feisty lion cub who "just can't wait to be king." But his envious Uncle Scar has plans for his own ascent to the throne, and he forces Simba's exile from the kingdom. Alone and adrift, Simba soon joins the escapades of a hilarious meerkat named Timon and his warmhearted warthog pal, Pumbaa. Adopting their carefree lifestyle of "Hakuna Matata," Simba ignores his real responsibilities until he realizes his destiny and returns to the Pride Lands to claim his place in the "Circle of Life."