Attendees and press got a real treat on this weekend at Disney’s D23 Expo. On Saturday, an estimated crowd of around 7,000 went absolutely wild with excitement over the first preview clip of the upcoming live-action The Lion King. The clip, which earned some of the loudest applause of any footage shown throughout the day, was exclusively screened in the D23 convention hall and has not yet been released online, however, all reports from the convention are calling the footage jaw-droppingly stunning.
The Lion King live-action remake is helmed by Jon Favreau and will be using the same virtual production techniques seen in his previous live-action remake of The Jungle Book. The film will reunite Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato and VFX providers The Moving Picture Company.
The footage shown was almost an identical replication of the famous Circle of Life opening scene but, this time, it was depicted using photo-real shots of the gorgeous African scenery and the animals featured. Elephants, antelopes, rhinos, cranes, zebras and, of course, lions, all answer the primal chanting call telling them to gather around Pride Rock as a truly momentous occasion was about to take place. As the animals gather, Rafiki appears and introduces the newly born, and next in line to be king, Simba. His introduction is met with a massive celebration amongst the animals. The visuals are said to be stunning with the panoramic shots of the African plains and of Pride Rock essentially meeting IMAX high-def quality.
This isn’t Favreau first D23 rodeo. He’s been down this road before with The Jungle Book and, as a result, understands how important it is to get these films just right for the fans who fell in love with the originals. Favreau also commented on the fact that, yes, this is a live-action remake of an animated film using animated CGI versions of real live animals. It’s a little difficult to understand the process of creating this film as a whole but, Disney has full confidence in its chosen director.
Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn commented “I visit a lot of sets… this is the first time, I thought to myself, when I went to visit Jon making the film, I had a hard time understanding how you do this. And yet, they do. And I do know that Jon and his team will create something that is completely respectful and faithful to The Lion King you already know and love, just as he did with The Jungle Book.”
The cast of The Lion King includes vocal performances from Donald Glover (Simba), James Earl Jones (Mufasa), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa), Billy Eichner (Timon) and John Oliver (Zazu). Earlier today, there was some buzz about Hugh Jackman joining the cast as the villain lion Scar however, Jackman’s reps reported this as being false.
The Lion King will pounce into theaters July 19, 2019.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter