Celebrated for his independent dramas that tug at your heartstrings, it’s still a bit shocking to see Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins tackling Disney’s follow-up to The Lion King remake. When Jenkins does speak about this choice however, as he did in a recent interview with Variety, it makes complete sense.
“What really pushed me across the line was James [Laxton], my DP, said, ‘You know what? There’s something really interesting in this mode of filmmaking that we haven’t done and that not many people have done.’ That was when I went back to the powers that be and said, ‘I would love to do this, but I’ve got to be able to do what I do.’ And they said yes!” said Jenkins, explaining what drove him to tackle this project.
He also credits another independent artist turned big Disney blockbuster director as to why he believes he can succeed with the project: “Knowing that Chloe Zhao had gone from one of the most beautiful films of the century with The Rider to making a Marvel movie, I was like, ‘Oh, shit. If she can do it, I can do it'” says Jenkins.
Jenkins also offered up this take on the sequel’s script, letting fans know he’s excited about the story and characters: “I read the script and about forty pages in, I turned to Lulu [Wang] and I said, ‘Holy shit, this is good.’ And as I kept reading, I got further away from the side of my brain that said, ‘Oh, a filmmaker like you doesn’t make a film like this,’ and allowed myself to get to the place where these characters, this story, is amazing.”
For something to make a filmmaker like Oscar-winning Barry Jenkins have that type of reaction, it looks like the creatives behind this follow-up want to ramp up the heart and soul that many complained wasn’t there in the 2019 remake.
Jenkins is set to direct The Lion King 2, from a script penned by 2019’s writer Jeff Nathanson. As yet, there’s no word on a potential release date for the movie, nor any specific plot details, although it has been reported that the film will move the story forward whilst also looking back, a la The Godfather: Part II.