The Lion King legacy: How the photorealistic version is different from the traditional one

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Updated: July 23, 2019 6:05:02 PM

The Lion King: The critics gave mixed reviews to the new version of The Lion King movie but Disney has found a comfortable place among its target audience.

The Lion King, The Lion King 2019, The Lion King 1994The Lion King is set in Africa and revolves around the life of a lion cub Simba and his father, King of the jungle Mufasa

The Lion King: Walt Disney Studio has released a photorealistic version of its classical animation and legacy film The Lion King (1994). The new version of the movie is based on more advanced computer-generated graphics and gives a realistic touch to the characters. The critics gave mixed reviews to the film but Disney has found a comfortable place among its target audience, with a familiar story of Mufasa and Simba of 1994. The photorealistic version of Disney’s movie released this Friday, July 19 in India and has already done a box office business of Rs 54.75 crore till Sunday. Why the original version made such a comfortable place in the heart of the people? What was so enchanting about the traditional animation and the classical version that it made such a place among the audience and how is the new version different from it?

About the Story

Based on the father-son chemistry, the story of The Lion King is set in Africa and revolves around the life of a lion cub Simba and his father, King of the jungle Mufasa, who falls to the conspiracy hatched by his brother Scar and is killed. The cub Simba runs and saves his life and blames himself for his father’s death. The cub struggles and survives and returns as a grown-up lion to reclaim what was his by defeating his evil uncle and his army of hyenas in a battle. This reminds us of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which has a kind of similar storyline and was used in Osamu Tezuka’s 1960 anime series, Kimba the White Lion.

The concept of good winning over evil has always worked out in all dimensions of cinema, and Disneys knows the best about it. In fact, the traditional version was criticized for having a very deep plot for a young audience. Since it told the stories through animals, it found a lasting child audience.

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If Shakespearean influence is no considered, then it can be said that The Lion King (1994) was based on an original script and distinguishes the movie from most of Disney’s best known classics like, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Bambi (1942), Lady and the Tramp (1955), which were mostly adaptations of fairy tales or contemporary children’s stories. The plot and a different story made The Lion King (1994) proved so popular that further adaptations inspired from it were produced, including a Broadway musical.

The outcome of challenging efforts

In the production of the 1994 version, the team had to make some great efforts. According to available reports, the directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff traveled to Kenya’s Hell Gate National Park to observe animals in their habitat. Jim Fowler, Wildlife expert got animals inside the Disney studio to understand their behavior as press statements suggest. According to reports, more than two year time was taken by the animators of Disney to develop the approximately two-minute stampede scene leading to Mufasa’s death.

With a box office collections of over USD 986 million, The Lion King became the highest-grossing handmade animated feature. If all the animated movies are considered then The Lion King 1994 emerges as the eighth-highest grosser of all time and in the list of all films it ranks at the 42nd number in the highest grosser category.

The everlasting impact of The Lion King (1994) on the Industry

The Lion King (1994) became so popular that it was followed by two sequels, The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride and The Lion King One-and-a-Half which had a limited release. The movie left no space of visual production and was followed by two television spin-offs, The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar and The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa and three shorts films namely Find Out Why, Timon and Pumbaa’s-Wild About Safety and It’s UnBungalievable. The Broadway musical, which released in 1997 and had music by Elton John with lyrics by Tim Rice.

The movie had two video games based on it named The Lion King which released in 1994 itself and was followed by The Lion King: Simba’s Mighty Adventure in 2000.

The recent and the past

The Lion King (2019) is directed by Jon Favreau, who had previously made Disney’s The Jungle Book. The story of the 2019 version is a total replica of the original one and has been replicated scene by scene in a photorealistic animation.

Though the critics differed in their reviews and most of them agree that the 2019 version cannot surpass the original movie’s box office business. But, the idea to make the photorealistic version was not to surpass the original business of the classic film but rather to add more to it.

“The photorealistic version of The Lion King, which is currently showing in theatres isn’t meant to replace or outdo the classic film, but rather to multiply revenue streams and use a beloved property to show off some new tricks. A lot of people will go, expecting to like what they see, and for the most part they won’t be disappointed,” the New York Times wrote in its review.

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