EXCLUSIVE: Walt Disney Studios Hired Academy Award Winner Barry Jenkins to Direct the Studio Sequel to the 2019 Blockbuster Film The Lion King. Jeff Nathanson, who wrote the last installment, has returned to the fold and completed an initial draft of the script. Jenkins won the Oscar for Best Picture Winner Screenplay Moonlight and was nominated for adaptation If Beale Street Could Talk (he directed both).
The film will continue with the photorealistic technology used by director Jon Favreau in the 2019 and 2016 film The Jungle Book. No release date has been set for The Lion King follow-up or start of production, but it’s understandably a top priority for Sean Bailey̵
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They are keeping the logline hidden, but I am told that the story will further explore the mythology of the characters, including the origin story of Mufasa. Moving the story forward while looking back evokes memories of The Godfather: Part II, set in the African plain with a continuation of the musical tradition that was a key part of the 1994 animated classic, 2019 film and Broadway blockbuster.
This is Jenkins’ second film project at Disney, as he also plans to direct a biopic of famed choreographer Alvin Ailey for Searchlight. Jenkins has completed a limited-series adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer-winning National Book Award for Amazon The underground railway, directing all the episodes and writing some of them. Jenkins has separately written a drama based on the first American Olympic boxing champion, Clarissa “T-Rex” Shields, and an adaptation of the Netflix documentary Virunga, on the battle to save Congo’s mountain gorilla population.
Jenkins’ PASTEL partners Adele Romanski and Mark Ceryak are expected to come on board The Lion King follow-up as producers.
“Helping my sister raise two boys in the 90s, I grew up with these characters,” said Jenkins. “Having the opportunity to work with Disney to expand this magnificent story of friendship, love and legacy while promoting my work that chronicles the lives and souls of the people within the African diaspora is a dream come true.”
Along with 2019 The Lion King, Nathanson’s credits on the blockbuster track include Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, catch me if you can, is Rush hour 2 is Rush Hour 3.
No immediate word on the cast. The voice cast of the latest episode included Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, Alfre Woodard, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, James Earl Jones, John Oliver, Keegan-Michael Key, Eric Andre, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Amy Sedaris and Chance the Rapper. Hans Zimmer, who composed the original animated film, composed the music for the latest film with Pharrell Williams.
Jenkins is represented by CAA, manager Jewerl Ross and attorney Jamie Feldman. Nathanson is represented by UTA and Hansen Jacobson.
Here is Jenkins’ partner, fellow director Lulu Wang, commemorating the news today:
– Lulu Wang (@thumbelulu) 29 September 2020