With the financial success of Beauty and the Beast, Disney has every right to sing, "Hakuna Matata." Though that song is not related to the film, it is part of another animated film that Disney is currently rebooting in live-action: The Lion King. The film, to be directed by Jon Favreau, is unlike the other remake, simply because they have a veteran reprising his iconic role: Mufasa.
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Yes, the great James Earl Jones will be accompanying Donald Glover's Simba. It's also rumored that Beyonce may lend her talents to voice Nala. What's this? A big budget live-action, black-led #Disney film? Say it ain't so. As an advocate for diversity, this is wonderful, especially given the fact that Black Panther would be Disney's first since acquiring Marvel in 2009.
If we could stroll down memory lane for a second, I was four years old when this movie was released. I loved the movie so much. I had the Sega Genesis game, the soundtrack, a school folder (which is still in my parents' garage) and a dog named Simba. Not only that, but I have the special edition DVD, a Making Of Lion King book and saw the film when it was re-released in 3D back in 2011. When the news broke that this film would be remade for today's audience, I'll admit I was hurt. This film is so significant in my life that I felt a remake wasn't necessary. I gathered three reasons why this little animated film is so iconic.
3. It Defied All Expectations
I briefly mentioned that I own a behind-the-scenes book for to this movie. It was amazing to know that this movie wasn't expected to be a success. Yes, Disney's highest grossing animated film was shunned by most of its animators, who didn't believe in the project. Disney's top artists went on to develop Pocahontas because they felt the film would be more of a financial success.
Prior to that, the film lost its first director, George Scribner, because he wanted the film to be akin to a documentary rather than a musical. The film continued without his direction, but because of an earthquake that occurred in Southern California, animators were forced to work at home and musical sequences were drawn at the Disney-MGM Studios.
Despite all the doubts, rewrites and an earthquake, the film had the highest grossing opening weekend in '94 and also became the highest grossing film of that year. Meanwhile, Pocahontas was a success, but it didn't reach the numbers that Lion King did. The moral of this story: Never give up on the little guy. As Drake would say, "Started from the bottom, now we here."
2. It Contains Countless Life Lessons
Sure, the reboot would have life messages, but only because the original did it first. One that is permanently engraved in my mind is Rafiki's quote, "The past can hurt, but you can either run from it or learn from it." In life, we all make mistakes, but we can overcome them by what we remembered was wrong in the first place. It also taught the world to have no worries in the form of a song: "Hakuna Matata."
Another lesson is when young Simba receives a talk from his father after going to a dangerous elephant graveyard. Mufasa tells Simba even the bravest kings get scared. Translation: Everyone gets worried from time to time and it's perfectly fine.
1. The Music Is Second To None
Along with "Hakuna Matata," The Lion King was saturated with songs written by Elton John and Tim Rice, and a score written by the great Hans Zimmer. The soundtrack was so memorable, that it was certified Diamond. The reboot may have an advantage with Donald Glover, a.k.a. Childish Gambino, a talented singer and rapper. Now, I haven't seen the new Beauty and the Beast, but from my understanding they have a few new songs. If they acquire Beyonce, I'm sure Disney and Favreau will summon her and her crew to whip up some new jams. Hell, Gambino could perhaps spit a verse or two; he certainly has the chops. One of the things Disney knows how to do is make some great catchy tunes.
Though there's no release date or a full cast list, Disney's D23 Expo is coming this summer. I have no doubt that more news will drop like flies near Pumbaa. In the mean time, Hakuna Matata.
How do you feel about the possible inclusion of Beyonce?