Earlier this year brought the surprise news that Oscar winner Barry Jenkins had been tapped by Disney to direct a follow-up film to reimagining of The Lion King that Jon Favreau brought to the big screen. Jeff Nathanson, writer of the 2019 film, penned the script for the film which will not only push things forward as a sequel but also explore Mufasa's origins, infusing The Lion King series with The Godfather Part II energy. Speaking in a new interview, Jenkins has opened up about the process of landing the job as the movie's director, noting that the fact he's not thought of as a filmmaker of movies like this was one reason he wanted to give it a shot.
"My agents send me a lot of scripts. When this one came, super top secret, I was very skeptical," Jenkins said while speaking with Eternals director Chloe Zhao in a discussion for Variety. "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.'"
He added, "And they said yes! I think part of that is because I knew at that point that you had already shot a very big movie of your own with some of these same folks. And knowing that Chloe Zhao had gone from one of the most beautiful films of the century with The Rider to making a Marvel movie, I was like, 'Oh, s**t. If she can do it, I can do it.'"
The is no official word on whether or not the cast will return for the follow-up as a whole, as a part, or not at all. The original film called for the voices of Donald Glover, Beyonce, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, James Earl Jones, John Oliver, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Eric Andre, Amy Sedaris, Florence Kasumba, and Chance the Rapper. The 2019 feature film brought in over $1.6 billion at the global box office upon its release.