None of us should begrudge Barry Jenkins for accepting a lucrative paycheck gig to direct a CG Lion King sequel. Like anyone else he needs a certain level of income to keep body and soul together, and there’s nothing wrong with cashing in on his reputation as an indie-level dispenser of vision, integrity and cinematic persuasion. We all need to sell out once in a while.
What Jenkins is doing is roughly analagous to Stanley Kubrick accepting a director-for-hire gig on Spartacus. That 1960 slave-revolt epic wasn’t Kubrick’s “own”, but he did a better-than-decent job with it and in so doing upped his industry cred, which allowed him to direct Lolita, Dr. Strangelove and so on.
Deadline, Variety and others reported earlier today that Jenkins will direct a Lion King sequel.
Jenkins will therefore be obliged to reiterate the basic idea behind the original, which is that the African wildlands are a kind of monarchy-styled, talking-animal neverland, and that all animal species (including those who are routinely killed and eaten by lions) are beholden to the “king” in the same way that the British used to be invested in the lore of the Royal family.
Zebras, wildebeests, buffalos, antelopes, gazelles and other grazing animals: “We admire your courage, Simba, and especially the way you fought to reclaim your throne from Scar. You are the King of the Pride Lands. All we ask in return is that if you happen to spot one of us in a field somewhere…uhm, we don’t know to put this exactly but if you happen to encounter one of your grazing subjects, perhaps you’ll give some thought to not tackling them, clamping your teeth over their windpipe and tearing their stomachs open so you can gorge on their intestines?
“We know this sounds ridiculous, but on the other hand…well, just think about it. We recognize your power and regality, King Simba, and we will always bow our heads respectfully when you walk by, but at the same time we hate the idea of being murdered and eaten. Yes, we know how this sounds. Please forgive us for not volunteering to be killed. How about this…if you happen to tackle one of us, could you please make sure that we quickly die from windpipe suffocation rather than agonizing disembowelment?”
Jenkins on the Lion King gig: “Helping my sister raise two young boys during the ’90s, I grew up with these characters. Having the opportunity to work with Disney on expanding this magnificent tale of friendship, love and legacy while furthering my work chronicling the lives and souls of folk within the African diaspora is a dream come true.”
Variety‘s Rebecca Rubin and Brent Lang have reported that the forthcoming sequel, which will be scripted by Jeff Nathanson (author of the screenplay for Jon Favreau‘s 2019 Lion King feature), may be a prequel to some extent.
Rubin/Lang: “Sources say the new movie will partly focus on the early years of Mufasa, the regal father of Simba whose death forms the emotional heart of the first film and its remake.”