“I’m Going back To Work Now”: ‘Lion King’ Director Dismisses Disney Fans

in Disney, Movies

A close-up of a lion cub in The Lion King: Mufasa

Credit: Disney

The trailer for the upcoming prequel film Mufasa: The Lion King has hit the Internet, and Disney fans are not thrilled about it. However, director Barry Jenkins is making it clear: he doesn’t really care.

A young lion cub stands atop a rocky ledge overlooking a vast, arid savannah landscape with sparse vegetation and distant mountains under a clear sky, in The Lion King: Mufasa
Credit: Disney

Mufasa: The Lion King is the live-action (or, rather, photorealistic) prequel to The Lion King (2019), which itself was a remake of the 1994 Disney Renaissance classic of the same name. While the remake grossed a staggering $1.663 billion at the box office, fans were fairly lukewarm about the lack of sympathetic expression in the photorealistic animals and the quality of the Jon Favreau-directed film in general.

Related: ‘Little Mermaid’ Trailer Released After Disney Remake Bomb

As with most of the live-action remakes that Disney has produced in the last decade, The Lion King was largely treated as forgettable and a nostalgic cash-grab by the Mouse House. Despite that, it appears Disney is committed to turning it into a new franchise and recruited Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins to helm a canon-changing prequel focusing on Mufasa as a young cub.

But now that a trailer for Mufasa: The Lion King has been released, fans are even less enthusiastic than they were about the first movie. Aside from the complaints about the visuals of young Mufasa (voiced by Aaron Pierre, replacing James Earl Jones), Disney aficionados were aghast that the movie seems to be creating a new canon in which Mufasa and Scar (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) are adoptive brothers, rather than by blood.

Mufasa and Simba walking in The Lion King remake
Credit: Disney

Additionally, some offense was taken by the change in that Mufasa is being presented as an orphan cub rather than part of a lineage of lion monarchs. Fans pointed out that, in the original 1994, Mufasa specifically told his own son, “Simba, let me tell you something that my father told me. Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars.” So there’s a whole lot going on there.

However, there were people who had a problem with the mere fact that a well-regarded filmmaker like Barry Jenkins was “selling out” by directing Mufasa: The Lion King. It turns out that Jenkins had no problem dismissing their concerns very publically.

The Lion King live-action remake featuring Mufasa
Credit: Disney

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For example, Twitter user @midereres_k posted, “Barry, You’re too good and talented for this Iger’s soulless machine,” managing to work Disney CEO Bob Iger into this. But Barry Jenkins hit right back, replying, “There is nothing soulless about The Lion King. For decades children have sat in theaters all over the world experiencing collective grief for the first time, engaging Shakespeare for the first time, across aisles in myriad languages. A most potent vessel for communal empathy.”

@NobleQAli chimed in, asserting that Jenkins must have directed the movie for money (which, presumably, he did get paid. He posted, “Come on man. I interviewed you when you premiered Moonlight at TIFF, and that Barry Jenkins wouldn’t have said what you just said. You can do a Disney movie for the check, in order to work on your passion projects at a later time, but you don’t have to shill like this.”

After a lengthy set of responses, Barry Jenkins concluded by saying, “You said ‘and that Barry Jenkins wouldn’t have said what you just said.’ But it’s cool. You said it. I responded. It’s done. I’m going back to work now. Much respect”

There are still months to go before audiences return to the Pride Lands and find out what Lil’ Mufasa and Lil’ Scar were up to, so this argument will probably just get more heated soon.

Mufasa: The Lion King stars Aaron Pierre (Mufasa), Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Taka), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa), Billy Eichner (Timon), Donald Glover (Simba), Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (Nala) and Blue Ivy Carter (Kiara). It will feature music by Lin-Manuel Miranda and hit theaters on December 20.

Do you think this Lion King prequel will be DOA in theaters? Tell us in the comments below!

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