Since the announcement of the film, the internet hasn’t stopped debating. Is Jon Favreau’s upcoming The Lion King remake live-action or animated? Technically, the answer is simple enough: Of course, it’s animated! After all, the entirety of the film was made on computers. There were no actual sets built, no actors standing in front of cameras and Favreau and his cinematographer didn’t actually photograph real animals in the jungle. So, what is there to debate?
Well, it’s because the film doesn’t look animated, at least not in a traditional sense. When we think of animated films, we think of 2D animated films like Mulan and Tarzan. Lady and the Tramp perhaps? Or perhaps 3D animated films like Toy Story, Frozen and Cars. There’s also stop-motion animation. Kubo and the Two Strings and Box Trolls come to mind. But all of the films listed above have one thing in common — they look cartoony. The remake of The Lion King is quite the opposite. Simba in the trailer looks as real as a Lion you’ll find on Animal Planet.
When asked by the folks from SlashFilm if the film should be considered live-action or animated, Jon Favreau had this to say:
“Well, it’s difficult because it’s neither, really. It depends what standard you’re using. Because there’s no real animals and there’s no real cameras and there’s not even any performance that’s being captured that’s underlying data that’s real. Everything is coming through the hands of artists. But to say it’s animated I think is misleading as far as what the expectations might be. And it also changes the way you sit and watch it. Because hopefully, you could just watch it without it being introduced. If we put up that Rafiki footage and didn’t say what it was, some people might know, some people might not know how it was done, but it causes you to be present and mindful and pay attention because you’re trying to figure out what you’re looking at. And that’s a great disposition to be in as an audience member.
I remember when I saw Gravity, I didn’t know what I was gonna expect, I just heard it was cool. I didn’t know how they did half the tricks. And I was completely drawn in by it and it was the experience I remember going to the movies for when I was little. It just washes over you. I think calling it live-action is also not appropriate either, because it sounds like we’re trying to present something that isn’t accurate. And I don’t know what we’re gonna call it. I don’t know. But remember, things have to sort of fit into one clickable headline, so it’’s hard to have the nuance.”
Looking at Favreau’s quote, it’s easy to see why we film fans just can’t help ourselves but to debate. But as Favreau said, it’s probably best not to think too hard about it. At the end of the day, the film is meant to look as photo-realistic as possible. It’s supposed to feel like they’re animals in the real-world and judging by its trailer, The Lion King is going to be exactly that.
The Lion King is set to be released in Malaysian cinemas on 18 July 2019.