Thanks to The Lion King trailer, we’ve gotten our first look at the live action version of the Disney animated classic which will be reaching theatres next summer. As discussed in an earlier guide to upcoming Disney live action films — including Tim Burton’s Dumbo — from their animation library, in some ways it seems strange to refer to this new movie as live action when, in truth, all of the characters are created via CG and motion capture.

But even with that being said, this is one we can’t wait for, no small part of that anticipation coming from a voice cast that includes Donald Glover (Simba), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa), Chiwetel Ejoifor (Scar), Billy Eichner (Timon), Alfre Woodard (Sarabi), Beyonce (Nala), John Oliver (Zazu), and James Earl Jones (reprising his role from the original, Mufasa).

Despite his successful track record, director Jon Favreau admits that this project “terrifies” him, even more so than adapting The Jungle Book did. “The Jungle Book was 50 years ago,” he said or the animated original at the Tribeca Film Festival, “but The Lion King was only 20. It came out in the age of video where people were watching it over and over again. So I have to prioritize that when I’m directing. I have to try and honor what was there. In some ways, it’s like bringing a Broadway play back, because there are certain expectations.


(Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

“I tried to keep it on the edge of being real,” he continued. “The Lion King people really know it and they grew up with it. They have an emotional connection. I think memory is like a compression software; you can’t remember everything, so you prioritize what’s important. I think, ‘What do I remember about The Lion King? What do I remember about The Jungle Book? I remember Mowgli and the snake; the snake’s eyes; Baloo and the river. Those are the images we definitely need in [the new live-action movie]. Then you look back at it and you realize here’s things you don’t remember, which you can explore a little more. But there’s an added pressure to these beloved stories, especially these deep-seated ones, because there’s an emotional connection.”

The Lion King will be released July 19, 2019.