The Lion King: Trailer, cast and release date – everything we know about Disney's new live-action remake

Donald Glover, Beyonce, James Earl Jones and Chiwetel Ejiofor among talented cast lending their voices to new Jon Favreau telling of beloved animation

Joe Sommerlad
Friday 23 November 2018 17:05
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First look at Jon Favreau’s all-new The Lion King movie

Disney has just dropped the trailer for its new live-action telling of The Lion King to huge excitement on social media.

A remake of the beloved animation from 1994, the project follows successful recent revivals of Cinderella (2015), The Jungle Book (2016) and Beauty and the Beast (2017), all of which were given new life with all-star casts and detailed CGI.

The Lion King though perhaps represents the biggest challenge for the studio, it being one of Disney’s most treasured properties and because it does not offer a single human character to ground the technical wizardry in reality.

Here’s everything we know about the upcoming film so far.

Who’s directing the new Lion King?

Actor Jon Favreau – who shot Elf (2003), Iron Man (2008) and The Jungle Book – is behind the camera, tasked with repeating the trick he pulled of with the Rudyard Kipling adaptation, a surprise box office smash two years ago.

Who’s voicing the characters?

In addition to the photorealistic visuals promised by the new trailer, the voice cast is set to be one of the film’s biggest draws.

Donald Glover is Simba, crown prince of the Pride Lands, Beyonce is Nala and Chiwetel Ejiofor Scar, the usurping villain voiced so memorably in the original by Jeremy Irons.

James Earl Jones, now 87, will reprise his role from that film as Simba’s betrayed father Mustafa – a nice touch. Alfre Woodward is his mate, Sarabi.

Among the comic supporting cast is TV satirist John Oliver as Zazu the hornbill, with Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen taking over as Timon and Pumbaa, the meerkat and warthog who befriend Simba in the wilderness.

The hyenas will be played by Florence Kasumba and comedians Eric Andre and Keegan-Michael Key.

Will the Elton John songs be retained?

Yes indeed. Elton, recently unveiled as the star of this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert, is soon due to retire but is reworking several of the classic songs he wrote with Tim Rice for the original before he does so, collaborating with Beyonce on a new commission for the closing credits.

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“Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”, “Hakuna Matata”, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “The Circle of Life” are all confirmed for a return, as is blockbuster composer Hans Zimmer, who will provide a fresh score.

When will The Lion King be released?

The new Lion King is scheduled for release on 19 July 2019, the 25th anniversary of the original’s arrival in multiplexes.

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If you can’t wait that long, David Attenborough’s nature documentary series Dynasties, currently showing on the BBC, is highly recommended and covers some of the same territory.

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