Director Barry Jenkins set to direct The Lion King live action sequel

Director Barry Jenkins set to direct The Lion King live action sequel

Given The Lion King live action remake made over $1.6 billion at the box office, we shouldn't be surprised to hear of a sequel - although learning that Barry Jenkins will helm the follow up does come as slight more of a surprise.

Jenkins has made a name for himself with more serious drama fare with his Oscar winning Moonlight and James Baldwin adaptation If Beale Street Could Talk. Deadline broke the news a little while ago, before Jenkins enthusiastically confirmed the story on social media.

The original animated versions of The Lion King holds a personal resonance with Jenkins, who said in a statement: “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.”

No doubt there will be plenty of purists who will be upset about this move, but it would be pretty short-sighted to not take Jenkins' own views into consideration and how this is all part of the Hollywood game that has to be played to keep the spotlight on your name for future projects. And it probably isn’t unrelated that Jenkins will also be directing a biopic about iconic Black dancer Alvin Ailey via the Disney-owned Searchlight Pictures.

Whether or not the sequel will lift directly from the straight-to-video 1998 animated sequel (it would be pretty fun if so), isn't clear right now as story specifics are sketchy, as are planned released dates, although given the level of CGI involved and ongoing COVID complications we are likely looking at a 2-3 year wait at least.

In the meantime, Jenkins recently wrapped production on his upcoming Amazon limited series The Underground Railroad - an adaptation of Colson Whitehead's 2016 novel - which was originally slated for a late 2019 release, but production delays caused by COVID has pushed it back to a yet to be confirmed date.

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