Disney has released a handful of new photos from its upcoming ‘live-action’ (but really just photorealistic CG) take on their animated classic “The Lion King,” the film arriving twenty-five years after the original hit cinemas.
Jon Favreau helms the film which pushes the technology he used on “The Jungle Book” even further to create photorealistic computer-animated creatures and environments.
As part of the photo release, actor Chiwetel Ejiofor spoke with EW about his role as the villain Scar and says this one is more “psychologically possessed” and “brutalized” than Jeremy Irons’ 1994 version and is “more openly obsessive, frustrated, and enraged”.
Favreau also spoke with the outlet, indicating he’d be among the first not to call it a ‘live-action’ film even though that’s what it has been dubbed by the studio:
“It feels like we’re restoring a classic historic architectural landmark – how do you update it without changing the personality of it? How do you take advantage of all the new technological breakthroughs but still maintain the soul and the spirit of the original ‘Lion King?’. I think this film is a culmination of all the live-action adaptations that Disney has done of their animated classics.”
He says that without the need for a blue screen, actual set or real cameras like he had on “Jungle Book,” everything became virtual and so as a result they took a whole new approach: “we’ve basically built a multiplayer VR filmmaking game just for the purposes of making this movie.”
Using VR, he and the crew could move the camera around the virtual set to pick the right angles and what they needed for the film and adjust the environments on the fly, but he also used a real traditional crew so the camera decisions would remain very similar to traditional cinema. He adds: “the whole reason for all of this is to make an animated film feel live-action… we hope it will feel like something different and something that’s as emotionally engaging as a film with real animals using real cameras.”
The voice cast also includes Donald Glover, James Earl Jones, Beyonce Knowles Carter, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, John Oliver, Amy Sedaris, Alfre Woodard, John Kani, Keeegan-Michael Key, Eric Andre, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and JD McCrary.
“The Lion King” opens in theaters on July 19th.