Disney is moving full-steam ahead on their new live-action Lion King movie. The studio's upcoming reimagining of the animated classic has found its screenwriter in the form of Jeff Nathanson. His previous credits include the Steven Spielberg movies Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal, as well as the Rush Hour movies.
Deadline broke the news that Disney hired the veteran screenwriter for the project. After the success of The Jungle Book this year, the studio decided to fast track their new take on The Lion King. The hiring of Jeff Nathanson for the movie comes just a couple of weeks after Disney made the official announcement that they would be moving ahead with a remake of Disney's The Lion King.
According to Disney, this new "reimagining" as they call it, will implement the same technology that was used to bring the animals and environments to life in The Jungle Book. They have brought on director Jon Favreau for the project, who also directed The Jungle Book for the studio. Disney and Jon Favreau are also still reportedly working on a sequel to The Jungle Book in addition to this new version of The Lion King.
While The Jungle Book was referred to as a live-action remake, the vast majority of the movie was CGI, save for Neel Sethi who played Mowgli and a few bits of actual sets that were blended with the animation. So, it makes sense that Disney wouldn't call this new version of The Lion King a live-action remake, because without any human characters, there will likely be no live-action elements to it, but it will likely utilize motion capture. At the moment it doesn't seem like Disney has any plans of adding human characters to The Lion King story, so it will most likely be entirely motion capture and CGI characters.
The original animated version of The Lion King remains one of the most successful animated movies ever made. The movie grossed $968 million back in 1994 on a budget of just $45 million. Disney has also been enjoying a ton of success with their live-action adaptations of animated classics, with both Cinderella and The Jungle Book crushing it at the box office, not to mention the live-action Beauty and the Beast Disney is releasing next year. This new version of The Lion King doesn't yet have a release date, but with Jeff Nathanson penning the script now, we should expect word on that sooner rather than later.