Lion King remake: Donald Glover is Simba, James Earl Jones returns as Mufasa

·UK Movies Writer
1994's original 'The Lion King' (credit: Disney)
1994’s original ‘The Lion King’ (credit: Disney)

The circle of life keeps on moving, and this time Donald Glover is along for the ride.

Yes, not content with being cast as Lando Calrissian in the as-yet untitled ‘Star Wars’ young Han Solo movie, the 33-year old star of TV’s ‘Community’ and ‘Atlanta’ will take on the lead role of Simba in Disney’s upcoming remake of ‘The Lion King,’ whilst original voice actor James Earl Jones will reprise his role as Mufasa.

Director Jon Favreau – who also called the shots on Disney’s 2016 remake of ‘The Jungle Book’ – made the news public in the now traditional manner, on Twitter:

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Favreau posted a photograph of Glover simply marked, “I just can’t wait to be king. #Simba,” followed later by a still of Jones marked “Looking forward to working with this legend. #Mufasa.”

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Officially classed as a live-action remake (although this doesn’t seem the most apt description as, given there are no human characters, it’s sure to be 100% mo-cap CGI), Disney are clearly hoping this new take on ‘The Lion King’ will repeat the success of last year’s ‘The Jungle Book,’ which had a warm critical reception and, rather more significantly, earned over $966.5 million (approx. £778.7 million) at the global box office.

1994’s original ‘The Lion King’ also leaves some pretty large paw marks to fill. Earning $968.5 million worldwide, it was the highest-grossing animated film of all time on release, and remains one of the seventh biggest animated film ever today (not adjusted for inflation). The film was also awarded two Golden Globes and two Oscars, spawned the smash hit stage musical, and was added to the US National Film Registry in 2016.

It’s but one of a multitude of new takes on Disney animated classics which the studio have in the pipeline. On top of the upcoming ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ we can look forward to a new ‘Dumbo’ from director Tim Burton (but without first choice leading man Will Smith), ‘Aladdin’ from Guy Ritchie, plus live-action versions of ‘Mulan,’ ‘Pinocchio’ and more. ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is also in production with Emily Blunt in the title role.

Jon Favreau is also keeping busy with Disney, as he’s also working on a ‘Jungle Book’ sequel. No release dates for this or ‘The Lion King’ have been announced yet, but Disney’s next live-action remake ‘Beauty and the Beast’ opens in UK cinemas on 17 March.

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