Disney delivers a new take on animated musical
LOS ANGELES, July 11, (Agencies): Disney’s “The Lion King” has received no shortage of remakes and spinoffs in the years since its original 1994 release. Now, as the film reaches its silver anniversary, Disney delivers a new take on the animated musical.
Cast and crew gathered in Hollywood for “The Lion King” world premiere Tuesday night, and discussed reimagining the classic.
“I think I’m really lucky, because I feel like a lot of the people who are experiencing it don’t remember the first one,” joked Donald Glover, who voices adult Simba.
“(The original film) is such a big part of who I was,” Glover continued, adding he felt the weight of his role especially during his duet of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” with co-star Beyoncé.
“Tackling it was really just trying to make the song feel as emotional as it was before,” he said.
While the remake pays homage to the source material, a new approach allowed for more creative liberties than its predecessor, many cast and crew noted.
Hans Zimmer, who composed the original film’s underscore, said he was excited to produce new compositions as well as revamp original music cues.
“This time, I could breathe,” he said, explaining that some of his music was performed too fast the first time around. “I could let them play properly. I could do things with them that I never did before.”
Composer Lebo M. said the remake will feature tunes from the original, and a host of new songs, as well as the anthem “He Lives in You”, which debuted in the stage production.
“We wrote it originally for the movie 25 years ago, and it made its mark on Broadway and around the world, and it’s now a very special version in this movie soundtrack,” he said. “The music department, we went crazy.”
At times, so did the cast.
Actor Billy Eichner, who voices Timon, said director Jon Favreau (who also helmed Disney’s recent “The Jungle Book”) allowed him to record his voice-overs alongside his co-star Seth Rogen, the voice of Pumbaa. Most voice actors do the job solo.
“I think it all comes back to Jon Favreau for being brilliant and knowing how to do a big spectacular film that people can also relate to and make it feel organic and genuinely funny,” Eichner said. “Even when Donald Glover came in to do ‘Hakuna Matata’ in our scenes together, we were all riffing. We kept it very organic and very raw, and I think the movie hopefully benefits from that.”
Glover shared a similar sentiment about Favreau, saying the director’s vision for the remake is the reason he signed on.
“The story of us all being connected is a universal truth that we really can’t ignore anymore,” he said. “If we don’t really like see the value of our lives together what’s the point of all this? Because we’re all connected.”
The vibrant red carpet hosted stars including former Destiny’s Child singers Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland, Tiffany Haddish, Jamie Foxx, Chrissy Metz, Tracy Morgan, Yara Shahidi, Chloe x Halle, and Zooey Deschanel (whose father, Caleb Deschanel, is the cinematographer). Inside, Favreau introduced the cast, who were met with a standing ovation before the film started. He also singled out filmmakers of the animated original that were in the audience for special thanks.
Beyonce has announced a new album “The Lion King: The Gift”, for which the 23-time Grammy winner has curated a variety of Lion King-inspired songs written by African artists. The album, which comes from Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records, will also include a song written and performed by Beyonce titled “Spirit”, which will also appear on the film’s soundtrack.
Beyonce released the single Tuesday night, following the Disney film’s exclusive premiere; however the entire Beyonce-curated album won’t debut until July 19, the day of the film’s US release.
The Beyonce track, co-written by IIya Salmanzadeh and Timothy McKenzie (a.k.a. Labrinth) alongside Queen Bey, is expected to play during an emotional “Lion King” scene involving Beyonce’s character Nala.
“This is sonic cinema,” said Beyonce in a statement. “This is a new experience of storytelling. I wanted to do more than find a collection of songs that were inspired by the film. It is a mixture of genres and collaboration that isn’t one sound. It is influenced by everything from R&B, pop, hip hop and Afro Beat.”
She went on, “I wanted to put everyone on their own journey to link the storyline. Each song was written to reflect the film’s storytelling that gives the listener a chance to imagine their own imagery, while listening to a new contemporary interpretation. It was important that the music was not only performed by the most interesting and talented artists but also produced by the best African producers. Authenticity and heart were important to me.”
The official soundtrack, produced by Hans Zimmer and Jon Favreau, will be released by Walt Disney Records on July 11 and includes “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” featuring Beyonce and Donald Glover, who plays Simba in the live-action remake.
“The Lion King” will hit theaters July 18.
Glover, who stars as Simba alongside Beyonce’s Nala in the live action remake of “The Lion King” knows that working with Queen Bey is an unparalleled experience.
The pair collaborated on the movie’s classic tune “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”
“Yeah, that was a big deal,” Glover, also known as Childish Gambino, told Variety’s Marc Malkin at the movie’s star-studded world premiere on Tuesday night in Hollywood. “You know you don’t get to work with people like that that often. This is like a powerhouse that they can’t even make anymore.”
The multi-hyphenate performer continued to urge future audience members to give all ears to Beyonce when they hit theaters, saying, “They’re not gonna make a Beyonce again so I’d just listen to her. Listen to what she did.”
At the premiere, Glover also voiced his disbelief over his casting as Simba. As for how he got the part, Glover recalled, “we were on set together actually, and he took me to the side and said ‘Hey…’ And I thought he was gonna ask me to like sign something for his son or something because I heard his son was a fan. And he was like, ‘Would you want to be Simba?’”
“And I really did think he was joking,” he continued. “I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ I didn’t even know they were making ‘Lion King’. It was a big, big deal.”