November 24, 2018

A full generation after the original The Lion King hit the screens in 1994, a live-action remake is set to come roaring out on July 2019. Just this week, Disney released the official teaser trailer, and lovers of the epic cartoon will be heartened by its reverential treatment.

From the first moment the sun rises on the vast, African savanna to the moment we fly in to Pride Rock, we practically relive the magic of witnessing the opening scene for the first time.

The familiar characters will be represented in realistic CGI, with central characters Donald Glover to be the voice of Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor to be the villainous Scar, and the iconic voice of James Earl Jones returning as the King, Mufasa—and he’s as amazing as you would expect!

Beyoncé will play the voice of Nala, while the pop star will also collaborate with original theme singer Elton John to write an all-new song. The remake will bring back classics like “The Circle of Life,” and “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.”

With Jon Favreau at the helm directing, the live-action reimagining will take a page from The Jungle Book (also directed by Favreau) with its realistic, digitally animated animals.

Favreau said that he was “nervous” about taking on the project because of all the expectations set by the original. In an interview with Polygon, he said:

The Jungle Book was 50 years ago, but The Lion King was only 20. It came out in the age of video where people were watching it over and over again.

So I have to prioritise that when I’m directing. I have to try and honour what was there. In some ways it’s like bringing a Broadway play back because there are certain expectations.

The Lion King, people really know it and they grew up with it. They have an emotional impact. I think memory is like a compression software; you can’t remember everything so you prioritize what’s important.

But you gotta live up to what they want. There’s an added pressure to these beloved stories, especially these deep-seated ones, because there’s an emotional connection.

Favreau’s The Jungle Book earned a billion dollars at the box office. However, that’s not Disney’s first live-action remake in recent years, with Alice and Wonderland and Beauty and The Beast preceding it. Meanwhile, new reimaginings of Dumbo, Aladdin, Lady and the Tramp, and Mulan are expected in the next two years.

For the generation who grew up singing “Hakuna Matata” especially, this inspiring remake, come 25 years later, will bring new meaning to “The Circle of Life.”

©Getty Images | Joe Raedle