The Lion King reigned supreme when it came to the movie, the Broadway play, and that oh-so-wonderful soundtrack (still on regular rotation in my house). But 20 years after its premiere, Disney is now looking to repackage the story for a new generation (we won’t mention the two direct-to-video sequels).
The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar is a short primetime movie that will air in November on the Disney Channel, and will focus on Simba’s son Kion. Kion, the second-born son, is part of a peace-keeping group that sounds a bit like The Kings Guard of Game of Thrones. Just with less murder. Probably. (Although …) If all goes well, then The Lion Guard will launch as a series in early 2016. Check out a clip from the upcoming movie below:
He’s brushing up (his faux hawk), he’s looking down, he’s working on his roar! (although is it wise to put a little lion cub in charge of such an important troop?) According to Variety, executive vice president of original programming at Disney Junior said of the project:
We were really trying to make sure, from a production value, that we could get as close to the feel of the movie as we possibly can. I think people will be sort of amazed at just how beautiful it really looks. Some of the artists on the series have in fact worked on the original movies.
This seems like heartening stuff, as The Lion King is one of the pre-Pixar Disney properties that is still vastly popular. And as readers will note, reboots are all the rage (to the point of over-saturation). But if done right (and it sounds like Disney is committed to quality and authenticity), then this could be a really great project, despite some reticence at this clip. Plus, it’s not really a reboot, but a continuation of the original story. The new story also builds on the inclusive themes of the original:
In the new series, Kion breaks tradition by forming“The Lion Guard” out of a varied group of animal friends he thinks are heroic. Typically, only the bravest, strongest lions in the African savanna can be members. In the movie and the TV episodes that follow, the crew will learn how to use unique abilities to solve problems while introducing young viewers to new kinds of fauna.
And as far as voice casting goes,
James Earl Jones and Ernie Sabella will reprise their roles from “The Lion King” as Mufasa and Pumbaa, respectively. Rob Lowe will give voice to Simba and Gabrielle Union will play his wife, Nala. Max Charles stars as Kion. Joshua Rush will give voice to Kion’s best friend Bunga, a fearless honey badger. Atticus Shaffer plays Ono, an intellectual egret. Diamond White will play Fuli, a confident cheetah. Dusan Brown will voice Beshte, a good-spirited hippo.
Mufasa … from the cloud? The movie will preview at the D23 Expo in Anaheim this weekend, so we should know more then. The Lion King also isn’t the only classic Disney project heading to (or back to) TV soon — a Duck Tales reboot is in the works for Disney XD, while a Tangled series is set for the Disney Channel, both in 2017.
So what say you, Lion King fans? If this is where the monarchy is headed, count you out? Out of service, out of Africa, will you hang about? Do you think Disney is getting wildly out of wing?