The Lion King: CinemaCon Footage Finally Revealed Remake’s Talking Animals

Disney screened footage of their new interpretation of The Lion King at CinemaCon on Wednesday, an almost shot-for-shot, line-for-line remake of the scene where Mufasa teaches young Simba about the circle of life.

Just as in the 1994 original, this version opens with a rambunctious young Simba (voiced by JD McCrary) waking up his parents and Mufasa (once again voiced by James Earl Jones) telling his wife Sarabi (voiced by Alfre Woodard) that before sunrise Simba is her son.

Everything plays out just as fans of the animated movie will remember, as Mufasa explains to Simba that everything the light touches is his kingdom and that one day it will all be Simba’s.

And, of course, Mufasa goes on to explain how all animals — even those who eat each other, as lions do antelopes — are connected in the circle of life.

The sequence ended with a playful appearance by the hornbill Zazu (voiced by John Oliver), who flies in to deliver his morning report but gets pounced on by Simba for his efforts. Provided this scene wasn’t a shortened version just for CinemaCon, Zazu doesn’t deliver his morning report in song but rather in the same manner as Oliver does as the host of Last Week Tonight.

It should be noted that the “Morning Report” song wasn’t in the original theatrical release, but was added later for the Special Edition and has been included in the stage versions of The Lion King.

If you were wondering how the talking animals of The Lion King look in “live-action” (fine, very photo-realistic CG animation) the answer is surprisingly good. And that’s because The Lion King, as directed by Jon Favreau, appears to be keeping the animals as close to looking like real animals as possible.

While the Disney brass at CinemaCon explained that the visual effects weren’t final, it was notable that neither the lions nor Zazu moved their mouths or faces in any exaggerated or overly expressive fashion. Don’t expect any raised eyebrows or shocked looks on these lions’ faces; their range of facial movement appears limited to what a real feline’s would be.

DUMBO\r\n\r\nDisney\u0027s live-action remake of Dumbo is fast approaching, with the film currently scheduled for release on March 29, 2019. Directed by Tim Burton and written by Ehren Kruger, the new film features a CG-animated Dumbo and stars Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green and Alan Arkin. “,”height”:1007,”width”:1789,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/10\/03\/dumbo-1538592024456.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/10\/03\/dumbo-1538592024456_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:”02″,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

ALADDIN \r\n\r\nAt one point, Disney was considering a live-action prequel to 1992\u0027s Aladdin called Genies. But in the wake of actor Robin Williams\u0027 death, focus has instead shifted to crafting a direct remake. Guy Ritchie is directing, and the cast includes Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari as Jafar and Will Smith as the Genie. The film is set for release on May 24, 2019.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/10\/12\/aladdincomparison-blogroll-1539369548664.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/10\/12\/aladdincomparison-blogroll-1539369548664_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:”03″,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

THE LION KING\r\n\r\nThe Jungle Book director Jon Favreau is returning to the Disney fold for another remake, this time for 1994\u0027s The Lion King. This is an interesting one in that while the film is being made via photorealistic computer effects, it is intended to look live-action even if it won\u0027t actually be live-action. The cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Beyonc\u00e9 Knowles-Carter as Nala, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Billy Eichner as Timon and Seth Rogen as Pumba. James Earl Jones will reprise his role as Mufasa. The film is scheduled for release on July 19, 2019.”,”height”:675,”width”:1200,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/03\/05\/lion-king-1551808050268.png”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/03\/05\/lion-king-1551808050268_{size}.png”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:”04″,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

LADY AND THE TRAMP\r\n\r\nTron: Uprising director Charlie Bean is helming a remake of 1955\u0027s Lady and the Tramp, with the screenplay written by Andrew Bujalski. Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux are voicing Lady and the Tramp, respectively, while Kiersey Clemons is playing Darling and Thomas Mann is playing Jim Dear. The film is expected to debut on the Disney+ streaming service in late 2019.”,”height”:1080,”width”:1920,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/03\/05\/lady-tramp-1551809668442.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/03\/05\/lady-tramp-1551809668442_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:”05″,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

MULAN \r\n\r\nFilming has wrapped on the live-action adaptation of Mulan, though it\u0027s currently not scheduled for release until March 27, 2020. The film is directed by Niki Caro and written by Elizabeth Martin, Lauren Hynek, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. Liu Yifei stars as Fa Mulan, with Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An and Donnie Yen also playing major roles. Despite rumors to the contrary, it appears that Mulan\u0027s tiny dragon sidekick Mushu will also appear in the film, along with at least some of the classic songs.”,”height”:674,”width”:1199,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/10\/03\/mulan-1538592024465.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/10\/03\/mulan-1538592024465_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:”06″,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL\r\n\r\nAs with The Jungle Book, Maleficent (formerly of Sleeping Beauty fame) was too big a hit for Disney not to move ahead with a sequel. Joachim R\u00f8nning is directing the sequel, with Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning returning as Maleficent and Princess Aurora, respectively. The film is scheduled for release on May 29, 2020.”,”height”:1565,”width”:2783,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/maleficent-2-1490905851808.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/maleficent-2-1490905851808_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:”07″,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

THE JUNGLE BOOK 2 \r\n\r\nJon Favreau\u0027s Jungle Book remake turned out to be one of Disney\u0027s biggest moneymakers of 2016, so of course a sequel is already in the works. Favreau is slated to direct again, with star Neel Sethi and screenwriter Justin Marks also expected to return. The sequel was initially rumored to be filmed concurrently with Favreau\u0027s Lion King remake, but production will commence after that project is complete. “,”height”:892,”width”:1586,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/jungle-book-2-1490905851805.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/jungle-book-2-1490905851805_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:”08″,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

CRUELLA\r\n\r\n101 Dalmatians already got the live-action remake treatment, but Disney\u0027s next attempt will borrow a page from 2014\u0027s Maleficent and focus on the early years of dog-hating villainess Cruella de Vil. Emma Stone is expected to star, with Kelly Marcel (Fifty Shades of Grey) penning the screenplay and Alex Timbers (Mozart in the Jungle) directing.”,”height”:810,”width”:1439,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/cruella-1490905851804.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/cruella-1490905851804_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:”09″,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

CHARMING\r\n\r\nVariety reports that The Wonder writer\/director Stephen Chbosky has signed on to write and potentially direct Charming, a new take on the Prince Charming character. The film will apparently be set from the point of view of Prince Charming\u0027s younger, less famous brother. \r\n”,”height”:719,”width”:1279,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/03\/05\/charming-1551809668439.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/03\/05\/charming-1551809668439_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:10,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME\r\n\r\nA live-action remake of 1996\u0027s The Hunchback of Notre Dame was announced in January 2019, with David Henry Hwang tapped to pen the screenplay. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz will return to write the music, though it\u0027s unclear how much will be new material and how much will be reused from the original. Josh Gad is producing and may also star as Quasimodo.”,”height”:720,”width”:1280,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/03\/05\/hunchback-notre-dame-1551810412725.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2019\/03\/05\/hunchback-notre-dame-1551810412725_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:11,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

LILO & STITCH \r\n\r\nOne of the more recent live-action adaptations added to Disney\u0027s lineup, Lilo & Stitch is currently being scripted by Mike Van Waes. Aladdin producers Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich are supervising this project as well. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lilo & Stitch will be a live-action\/CG hybrid, and it\u0027s unknown whether Disney is planning this film for theatrical release or as an exclusive for its upcoming streaming service. “,”height”:901,”width”:1600,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/10\/03\/lilo-and-stitch-1538592024461.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2018\/10\/03\/lilo-and-stitch-1538592024461_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:12,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

THE LITTLE MERMAID\r\n\r\nDisney\u0027s Little Mermaid remake is one of several new takes on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale in various stages of development. This one has a pretty big selling point, however, as Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will be producing the film and crafting a new lineup of songs alongside original composer Alan Menken. This will actually be Miranda\u0027s third Disney project after Moana and Mary Poppins Returns. Deadline reported in December 2017 that Rob Marshall is Disney\u0027s top pick to direct. “,”height”:1172,”width”:2083,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/little-mermaid-1490905851807.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/little-mermaid-1490905851807_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:13,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN\r\n\r\nDisney seems disinterested in greenlighting another Fantasia sequel, but at least we\u0027re getting a remake of this iconic segment from the original Fantasia. Night on Bald Mountain is being scripted by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless and will reportedly apply the Maleficent treatment to Chernabog, the nocturnal, demon-summoning monster. Hopefully this remake will stick closer to the source material than 2010\u0027s The Sorcerer\u0027s Apprentice.”,”height”:1814,”width”:3225,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/night-on-bald-mountain-1490905851810.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/night-on-bald-mountain-1490905851810_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:14,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

PETER PAN \r\n\r\nThere\u0027s been no shortage of live-action Peter Pan movies in recent years, but that\u0027s not stopping Disney from revisiting their 1953 animated version. The remake is currently in the hands of Pete\u0027s Dragon director David Lowery and screenwriter Toby Halbrooks, though there have been no casting announcements yet.”,”height”:576,”width”:1024,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/peter-pan-1490905851811.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/peter-pan-1490905851811_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:15,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

PINOCCHIO \r\n\r\nPinocchio is another character every studio seems eager to take a crack at. Disney first tapped The Odd Life of Timothy Green writer Peter Hedges to adapt the 1940 animated movie, with later drafts being written by Chris Weitz and Jack Thorne. Paul King had been tapped to direct, though he dropped out in January 2019 due to personal reasons. Tom Hanks is reportedly in talks to star as toymaker Geppetto.”,”height”:1406,”width”:2501,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/pinocchio-1490905851812.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/pinocchio-1490905851812_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:16,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS \r\n\r\nThe very first animated Disney film is well on its way to getting a live-action remake, with a script from Erin Cressida Williams (The Girl on the Train) and a new assortment of songs from La La Land\u0027s Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Disney is also apparently developing a spinoff called Rose Red, which would focus on Snow White\u0027s sister joining forces with the dwarfs to break her curse.”,”height”:1223,”width”:2181,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/snow-white-1490905851813.jpeg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/snow-white-1490905851813_{size}.jpeg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:17,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

THE SWORD IN THE STONE \r\n\r\nDisney is the latest studio to take a crack at bringing the story of King Arthur to life in live-action. Game of Thrones\u0027 Brian Cogman has been charged with writing the screenplay, which we assume will maintain a lighter, more playful take on the story of Arthur\u0027s ascension to the throne. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo will direct, and the film will be exclusive to Disney\u0027s upcoming streaming service.”,”height”:729,”width”:1295,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/sword-in-the-stone-1490905851814.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/sword-in-the-stone-1490905851814_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:18,”albumTotalCount”:19},{“caption”:”

TINKER BELL\r\n\r\nIn addition to their Peter Pan remake, Disney is also developing a solo Tinker Bell movie. We don\u0027t know if the two projects are linked, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, \u201cit will play with the idea and the timeline of the well-known Peter Pan narrative.\u201d Finding Dory\u0027s Victoria Strouse is writing the screenplay, and Reese Witherspoon is attached to produce and star in the film. “,”height”:873,”width”:1553,”url”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/tinker-bell-1490905851815.jpg”,”styleUrl”:”https:\/\/assets1.ignimgs.com\/2017\/03\/30\/tinker-bell-1490905851815_{size}.jpg”,”credit”:””,”objectRelationName”:””,”objectRelationUrl”:””,”albumName”:”Every Upcoming Disney Live-Action Remake”,”relativePosition”:19,”albumTotalCount”:19}]’

The lions’ mouth movements looked natural and subtle as did Zazu’s beak when he speaks. It never looked like “talking animals,” so much at times that it was like watching a nature documentary with voice-overs it.

It’s going to be interesting to see then how The Lion King pulls off such expressive musical numbers as “Hakuna Matata” and “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” given this realistic depiction of animal facial mobility seen thus far.

For more coverage of Disney’s CinemaCon presentation, check out our breakdowns of the Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4, and Aladdin footage shown.