Disney is still very much in the business of making dreams come true, with the recent Disney Investors Day providing so many gifts for fans that it is already making up for the drama of the past year. While a lot of the content revealed was aimed at the streaming service Disney+, the studio has not completely abandoned the big screen, with The Lion King 2 being officially announced with Moonlight director Barry Jenkins. Surprisingly, the follow-up will reportedly be a prequel to the 2019 hit, rather than a sequel.
The legendary Hans Zimmer will provide the score alongside the multi-talented Pharrell Williams and Moonlight composer Nicholas Britell. The prequel is set to be directed by Jenkins, who's coming-of-age drama Moonlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture back in 2017, with the filmmaker having followed this up with the critically acclaimed romantic drama If Beale Street Could Talk in 2018.
While specific plot details for The Lion King prequel are being kept tightly under wraps, it is likely that the plot will delve into Mufasa's past and his relationship with villainous brother Scar. It was previously reported that, rather than being a straight-up prequel, the movie would progress the story of the main characters from the first movie at the same time as exploring Mufasa's origin. This could still be the case and would allow the movie to bring back familiar faces such as Simba and Timon and Pumbaa.
Director Barry Jenkins has discussed the project before, reflecting on how important the original The Lion King is to him. "Helping my sister raise two young boys during the '90s, I grew up with these characters," Barry Jenkins said of making The Lion King prequel. "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."
The live action remake of The Lion King was a box office triumph and quickly went on to break a $1 billion, as well as entering the top 10 highest-grossing movies of all time, continuing the huge success that Disney has seen so far from their live-action remakes. Directed by Iron Man's Jon Favreau, 2019's The Lion King stars the voices of Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, Florence Kasumba, Eric Andre, Keegan-Michael Key, JD McCrary, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, as well as James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa from the original animated movie. There is no word yet as to whether or not members of the original cast will return for the prequel, but it is highly likely that an effort will be made to bring them at least some of them back to the kingdom of Pride Rock.
The Lion King prequel will once again make use of the ground-breaking photo-realistic computer animation that brought the first movie to cinematic life. Jeff Nathanson, who wrote 2019's The Lion King, is also reportedly on board to write the script. The movie has not yet been given a release date or production start date but considering the huge financial success of the first The Lion King, it is likely a high priority for Disney. The Lion King prequel is just one of multiple Disney projects announced at Disney Investor Day 2020.