In a conversation with Deadline, Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins confirmed that he will be directing a sequel to Disney’s 2019 Lion King remake. The remake, which was directed by Jon Favreau, drew attention for its use of computer technology to create a “live action” inspired style, with more realistic versions of the characters from the original 1994 animated classic. Although the film received criticism for not living up to the original, it was a financial success, grossing over 1.5 billion dollars worldwide.
Jenkins described himself as a fan of the original, stating that “I grew up with the characters”. He also expressed gratitude for the chance to work on a film starring a number of legendary Black actors, including Donald Glover as adult Simba, Beyonce Knowles-Carter as adult Nala, and James Earl Jones reprising his 1994 role as Mufasa, Simba’s father and the powerful, beloved patriarch of the Pride Rock lions.
Neither Disney nor Jenkins have confirmed what topics the sequel will cover, although it has been confirmed that the script is being written by Jeff Nathanson, who also penned the 2019 adaptation. While there are a number of existing sequels Disney could choose to adapt, including the direct-to-video The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride and the Lion Guard children’s TV show, rumors currently indicate that the sequel might in fact be a prequel focusing on Mufasa’s past, his rise to power and his conflict with ambitious brother Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
It is unlikely that the Lion King sequel will be released until 2022, due to the amount of work required to produce the trademark “photorealistic” computer-generated visuals. In the meantime, the 2019 film can be watched via the Disney+ streaming service. Also available on Disney+ is Black is King, a “visual album” experience set to Beyonce’s Lion King-inspired album “The Gift”.