The Lion King live-action reboot made over $1.6 billion at the box-office, so a sequel almost felt inevitable. However, what nobody expected was that Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins, who famously helmed Moonlight and the excellent If Beale Street Could Talk, would serve as director of the followup.
Deadline reports that Jenkins has signed on to direct The Lion King 2, with Jeff Nathanson returning as screenwriter. A first draft has already been completed and looks set not to follow the direct-to-DVD sequel to the animated original The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. Instead, the story will continue the evolution of the characters from the first movie, while also looking back at Mufasa’s origin story.
The report notes that the Jenkins' sequel will move the story "forward while looking back conjures memories of The Godfather: Part II, set on the African plain with a continuation of the tradition of music that was a key part of the 1994 animated classic, the 2019 film and the blockbuster Broadway stage transfer." So, expect more songs, more Mufasa, and hopefully another Beyoncé visual album.
Jenkins said of taking on the project: “Helping my sister raise two young boys during the ’90s, I grew up with these characters. 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.”
The Lion King 2 has no release date, and Jenkins will be busy working away on a biopic of famed choreographer Alvin Ailey for Disney's Searchlight studio before then. The filmmaker recently completed an adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s book The Underground Railroad, directing all episodes of the limited series. He's also been attached to a drama based on the first American female Olympic boxing champ, Clarissa “T-Rex” Shields, and Netflix's adaptation of Virunga, a documentary about the battle to save Congo's mountain gorillas. He's one busy man.
No word on casting for Lion King 2, but we can no doubt expect Donald Glover, Alfre Woodard, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and more to return. In the meantime, check out our ranking best live-action Disney remakes.