Disney’s “The Lion King” remake has dominated the worldwide box office with over $1 billion in less than a month, but it has rubbed some of the animators who worked on the 1994 movie the wrong way. HuffPo reached out to 13 original “Lion King” animators to get their thoughts on Jon Favreau’s photorealistic remake, many of whom declined to comment. One animator speaking on anonymity said, “I will only get myself in trouble if I comment on the ‘other’ version.” Another animator added, “There is a huge resentment against these 3D remakes from the original 2D crews. Maybe if we got any kind of royalties it would be different.”
David Stephan, one of the original animators of 1994’s “The Lion King”, has blasted the remake of the classic Disney film, calling it “cheap”.
The live-action remake, directed by “Jungle Book” helmer Jon Favreau, has so far earned over USD 1 billion in the worldwide gross. However, it has not been able to charm the critics, who found the film quite unnecessary.
Stephan, in an interview with Huffpost, said the studio’s decision to go for a reboot “kind of hurts” as he believes it was driven by their commercial motivations. “If you polled the crew of the original ‘Lion King’, most of them would say, ‘Why? Did you really have to do that?’ It kind of hurts. “It’s sort of sad that the stockholder is now in the room deciding what movies get made. Disney’s now taken the cover off, and it’s now in your face: ‘Yeah, we just want to make money’. That’s disappointing as an artist, from a studio that was founded on originality and art,” the animator said.
Stephan also said that he found the performances of Hollywood stars like Donald Glover and Beyonce “weak” and “wooden”. He further lamented the new character designs, which he said felt “too real”. “It reminded me of those old nature films where they would dub the voices over and the lips would move. I thought, ‘Oh, this is really cheap.’ I think it was just too soon for this one,” Stephan added.
“The Lion King” released worldwide on July 19.