The live-action remake of the Lion King isn’t expected to hit theaters until 2019, but Disney got the anticipation started early with a preview of what fans can expect from the Jon Favreau-directed project. A peek of the film’s “Circle of Life” opening sequence debuted to a room of thousands during the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California on Saturday (July 15).
Though Disney also screened previews of upcoming releases like The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and the live-action adaptation of Dumbo, it’s obvious that the Lion King stole the show.
According to the Hollywood Reporter:
Exclusively screened for attendees and not simultaneously released online, the footage featured jaw-dropping photoreal shots of African landscapes, many types of animals (including elephants and, of course, lions), and ended with the iconic moment in which Rafiki introduces an adorable young Simba on Pride Rock, as Circle of Life played.
“We love this movie and we are working hard,” said director Jon Favreau, fresh off directing The Jungle Book. He’s making Lion King (scheduled for a July 19, 2019 release) in Los Angeles, again using virtual production techniques by reteaming with Jungle Book’s Oscar winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato and lead VFX house MPC.
This time, however, they are incorporating virtual reality tools and techniques. “We are going to use a lot of virtual reality tools so it feels akin to what you are looking at [if you were on a real set],” explained Legato during a keynote that he gave at NAB in April. “You can walk around the set like a cameraman. You can make a ton of mistakes and no one has to see them. [Wearing VR headsets] the actors can now walk into a scene and see the other actors and trees … and because you are in 3D, you get a realistic sense [of the environment].”
It’s unclear when Disney plans to release a trailer to the ‘net, but the teaser got overwhelmingly positive reviews on Twitter.
OH MY GOD! THEY JUST SHOWED THE OPENING OF THE NEW LION KING OH MY GOD IT IS SO OH MY GOD IT LOOKS SOOO GOOOOD OH MY GOD! #D23Expo #LionKing pic.twitter.com/I9kE9kevyL
— Andre Meadows (@BlackNerd) July 15, 2017
The upcoming Lion King reboot stars Donald Glover as Simba, with Hugh Jackman will voice Scar, and James Earl Jones returns to the franchise as Mufasa.
Check below for more reactions to the teaser.
They just showed the shot for shot opening of Lion King, The Circle of Life, in live-action. And I can’t stop crying. #D23Expo
— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) July 15, 2017
.@Jon_Favreau’s Lion King footage looked crazy good. Brought Disney fans to tears. This is their Star Wars. Cant wait. #D23EXPO
— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) July 15, 2017
They played the Circle Of Life opening from the live action Lion King with the CG Simba being held up on Pride Rock. Audience went nuts!
— Empire Magazine (@empiremagazine) July 15, 2017
Just saw footage from @jonfavs‘s THE LION KING! They showed part of the circle of life & I pretty much lost my shit. love the animated film pic.twitter.com/6e52qjkBhP
— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) July 15, 2017
Y’all, Hugh Jackman is playing Scar in the Lion King remake. This cast is ridiculous. #d23expo pic.twitter.com/zmHzkZ72WS
— Leon Langford (@MasonLLL) July 15, 2017