Barry Jenkins was convinced to direct the new ‘Lion King’ film by the script.
The ‘Moonlight’ filmmaker is to helm the upcoming Disney movie – a follow-up to the 2019 remake of the 1994 animation ‘The Lion King’ – and he made the decision to take on the family flick after being blown away by the quality of Jeff Nathanson’s screenplay.
In a conversation with fellow filmmaker Chloe Zhao for Variety, Barry said: “I read the script and about 40 pages in, I turned to Lulu (Wang) and I said, ‘Holy s***, 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.”
Barry also revealed that he was inspired by Chloe – who turned her attention to Marvel Cinematic Universe movie ‘The Eternals’ after directing critically acclaimed drama ‘The Rider’ – to make a dramatic shift after directing the Oscar-winning ‘Moonlight’.
He explained: “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!
“And 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, s***. If she can do it, I can do it.’ “
Jenkins admits that the original ‘Lion King’ film was one of his favourite childhood movies but that love he had for the original made him wary of taking on the sequel.
He said: “‘Lion King’ was the ‘Baby Shark’ of my time.
“I’d seen it literally hundreds of times and I had this connection to it, and yet I was sceptical because, who am I to make a ‘Lion King’ movie? Not a ‘Lion King’ sequel! A ‘Lion King’ movie.”
The new movie is set to be a prequel to the events of the original story, focusing on King Mufasa’s origins.