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‘Moonlight’ Director Barry Jenkins to Helm Live-Action ‘Lion King’ Sequel

Following two acclaimed outings, the esteemed director is turning to Pride Rock for his next project.

Mufasa Lion King 2019
Mufasa in Lion King 2019 looks out over Pride Rock.

This morning, Disney announced that a sequel to 2019’s “Lion King” is in the works, and Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins will lead the project. The photorealistic remake of the 1994 classic musical was met with mixed reviews. However, the film proved to be a box office king, and has since found a home as one of the tentpole offerings of Disney+.

Jenkins is best known for his 2016 film “Moonlight,” which won three Academy Awards, including the controversial Best Picture moment at the end of the show. His follow-up film, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” was also very well received, and was nominated for three Academy Awards.

The 2019 “Lion King,” directed by Jon Favreau, followed the original film’s plotline very closely, and is oft cited as one of the film’s biggest letdowns. For the most part, the music stayed nearly identical as well. The film featured a star-studded cast including Beyoncé, Seth Rogen, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. While it isn’t clear yet who from this cast will return to reprise their roles, the film reportedly tells the story of Mufasa’s origin. This would differ greatly from the original “Lion King 2,” which was a direct-to-video sequel that followed Simba’s child in a story reminiscent of “Romeo and Juliet.”

2019’s “Lion King” required the use of groundbreaking visual effects techniques in order to develop the photorealistic look, which the sequel will presumably continue with. Due to this fact, as well as the current production issues associated with the coronavirus pandemic, means there is no timetable for the film’s release yet, but hopefully it will be able to begin shooting sooner rather than later.

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