After making more than $1 billion on its photorealistic remake of The Lion King in 2019, Disney is looking to return to the Pride Lands with a brand new story. It was announced last year that Moonlight writer and director Barry Jenkins was hired to helm the follow-up, and now that production on the film is finally underway, we're starting to get some more information. This new Lion King will actually be a prequel to the first film, not a sequel, and it will feature a younger Mufasa as its central character.
According to a new report from Deadline, the first two voice actors have been hired for Jenkins' Lion King project. Aaron Pierre, who starred in Amazon's The Underground Railroad (which Jenkins created, co-wrote, and directed) and recently appeared in M. Night Shyamalan's Old, will be voicing Mufasa in the upcoming prequel story. Kelvin Harrison Jr., known for Luce and The Trial of the Chicago 7, will voice the character of Taka.
For those who aren't familiar, Taka is the real name of Scar, Mufasa's brother who ultimately betrays and murders him in an attempt to take over as king of Pride Rock. There are no additional story details at this time, but it seems like the film will be focusing on the relationship and rivalry between the two brothers.
Jeff Nathanson wrote the script for the Lion King prequel, while composer Hans Zimmer (who scored both the original Lion King and the remake) is teaming up with Pharrell and Succession's Nicholas Britell to make new music for the film.
While The Lion King may seem like a strange choice for a filmmaker like Jenkins, the story of the project really spoke to him when he read the script.
"My agents send me a lot of scripts. When this one came, super top secret, I was very skeptical," Jenkins told Chloe Zhao during a filmed interview last year. "I read the script and about 40 pages in I turned to Lulu [Wang] and I said, 'Holy s**t, this is good.' And as I kept reading, I got further away from the side of my brain that said, 'Oh, a filmmaker like you doesn't make a film like this,' and allowed myself to get to the place where these characters, this story, is amazing. What really pushed me across the line was James, my DP, said, 'You know what? There's something really interesting in this mode of filmmaking that we haven't done and that not many people have done.' That was when I went back to the powers that be and said, 'I would love to do this, but I've got to be able to do what I do.'"
Are you looking forward to seeing what Jenkins does with this Lion King prequel? Let us know in the comments!