Tampering with some of Disney’s most beloved animated classics is a dangerous proposition. But there’s probably no one who understands that better than Jon Favreau after he found a way to bring The Jungle Book to life (and with it, $963.9 million in world box office).
Now he’s doing it again with an even bigger classic, The Lion King, and Favreau admits to Collider he’s treading on shaky ground.
Favreau wants to honor the source material – both the original animated film and the critically acclaimed theatrical production – but he’s not trying to replicate it.
“You have a lot of people with very deep memories and connections to those properties, so you want to make sure that even though the story is very strong, you want to make sure it translates well to yet another medium and doesn’t feel like it’s duplicating or trying to outdo what was done in another medium.
“[It’s] such a tremendous responsibility because you don’t want to do anything that undermines people’s connection to the original, which is so wonderful.”
Billed as a “live-action” remake, The Lion King will utilize many of the same techniques Favreau and his team pioneered with The Jungle Book, creating photorealistic characters and environments. But unlike the latter film, The Lion King isn’t expected to feature any human performers, which makes the “live-action” descriptor somewhat dubious.
Favreau may be aware of that particular disconnect, but he doesn’t like to refer to his version as “animation.” As far as he’s concerned, the original still “works tremendously well,” and he’s trying to achieve something vastly different.
“The trick is can you make it look like you actually found real animals in a real environment? And how do you translate the story through that? And in that sense, what we learned on Jungle Book as we got into the photorealism of the environments and the characters, the behavior of the animals, how do you use the lessons you learned there, but adjust it to the tone of what Lion King is?
“Because I think that when you hear the opening song, when you see those images, the photography of it, even in 2-D it is arresting. And I try to imagine what it could be like using the tools that we have today? And could we make audiences feel the same way and retell the same myth using these new tools?”
Favreau also confirmed he’s currently onboard to direct a sequel to The Jungle Book before immediately after the Lion King remake, but acknowledged that the lengthy development timeline could become a factor in his ability to remain attached to both projects.
In the meantime, Marvel fans can look forward to seeing Favreau in front of the camera next year, as he’ll reprise his role as Tony Stark’s confidant Harold “Happy” Hogan in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
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