Oscar winner Barry Jenkins is tackling the continuing story of The Lion King, following up from the 2019 Walt Disney hit directed by Jon Favreau that used photo-realistic CGI to recreate the 1994 classically animated film. I spoke with Jenkins briefly in which he emphasized that “it’s not a sequel.” No word yet on if the story will stay with Simba and Nala or focus on the early years of Mufasa.
“Having the opportunity to work with Disney on expanding this magnificent tale of friendship, love and legacy while furthering my work chronicling the lives and souls of folk within the African diaspora is a dream come true,” he said.
Jeff Nathanson, who wrote the last installment, is on board once again and has completed an initial draft of script. Jenkins won the Adapted Screenplay Oscar for scripting the Best Picture winner Moonlight and was nominated for Adapted Screenplay again for 2018’s If Beale Street Could Talk. This will be the first film he’s directed without a hand in the screenplay.
No immediate word on cast. The last installment’s voice cast included Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, Alfre Woodard, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, James Earl Jones, John Oliver, Keegan-Michael Key, Eric Andre, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Amy Sedaris and Chance the Rapper. Hans Zimmer, who composed the original animated film, composed music for the last film with Pharrell Williams but expect Jenkins regular Nicholas Britell to take the composer duties for this.
Director Lulu Wang, Jenkins’ partner, celebrated the news with their new pup Chauncey auditioning to be the new Simba if need be.
Disney has entered a new, lucrative phase with live action versions of its animated classics, including Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan and Dumbo. It was previously announced that Aladdin would be getting an official sequel.
Jenkins just finished principal photography on his Amazon limited series The Underground Railroad, adapted from the Colson Whitehead novel, last week. He’s also attached to multiple project including an Alvin Ailey biopic and, more loosely and unofficially, with Steven Soderbergh and André Holland on a continuation of The Knick.
Jenkins is repped by CAA, manager Jewerl Ross and attorney Jamie Feldman. Nathanson is repped by UTA and Hansen Jacobson.
Deadline Hollywood first reported the news.