With over $1 billion dollars to its name at the global box office, Disney’s “live-action” remake of The Lion King is doing quite well for itself. Of course, that’s what happens when a film features the combined star power of Beyonce, Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, and many, many other notable famous actors and musicians. That’s also what happens when, as previous Disney remakes like Aladdin have proven, a studio goes out of their way to push all of the audience’s nostalgia buttons. Even so, there are some who aren’t too happy about The Lion King remake and the trend it represents.
Speaking with HuffPost, several animators, designers and other crew members who worked on the original 1994 animated film shared their feelings — both on and off the record — about Jon Favreau’s remake. “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,” claimed David Stephan, who worked on the “Circle of Life” opening and the designs for the hyenas in the original:
“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.”
Others who shared Stephan’s sentiments weren’t as willing to go on the record, though, as they feared reprisal for their opinions. Even so, most weren’t happy. “I will only get myself in trouble if I comment on the ‘other’ version,” said one. Another 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.”
Though not everyone interviewed by HuffPost was angry about the remake. Alexander Williams and Dave Bossert praised Favreau’s film and cautioned against their former coworker’s anger. “I think some of my colleagues forget that when you work on a Disney movie, you don’t own it. They own it,” said the former. The latter, meanwhile, referenced the late Walt Disney himself, noting that he “constantly reused and recycled great stories.