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Barry Jenkins Will Direct The Lion King Prequel Nobody Asked For

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Simba and Scar having a conversation.
Simba and Scar having a conversation.
Screenshot: Disney

Can you feel the cash grab tonight?

If you’ve made it this far, then you already understand the important bits of this news. Deadline reports that Barry Jenkins has been tapped to direct a follow-up to Disney’s 2019 retelling of The Lion King—movie that was extremely OK but unnecessary and made an inordinate amount of money for one of the most prominent companies in the world.

The last part of that sentence is the salient thing to bear in mind. You might be compelled to ask “Who wants a prequel to The Lion King?”—but the reality is that nobody does, really. Disney’s in the business of making money and The Lion King’s box office haul made it the kind of property that the studio couldn’t just leave alone, and so here we are.


The Oscar-winning filmmaker of Moonlight fame confirmed the news:


“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,” Jenkins told Deadline.

No further details about Jenkins’ go at the lion-centric franchise (mind you, there are other Lion King movies) have been announced yet, but Deadline’s report suggests “the story will further explore the mythology of the characters, including Mufasa’s origin story,” which presumably means that Scar will also be a factor. The big question going forward, though, is whether this movie will also be something of a Shakespeare rip-off that, somehow, resonates with people emotionally.

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