Remember when Disney released the live-action version of Alice in Wonderland? It was quite the spectacle: The visionary Tim Burton served as the director while Johnny Depp became the Mad Hatter.
More importantly, the movie earned a billion dollars worldwide — and money talks when it comes to Disney projects. From there, the company would go on to adapt more of its classic animated hits.
For the most part, the new adaptations were box office successes, including the recent Aladdin adaptation starring Will Smith as the blue wish-granter.
So what about The Lion King? Did the new version of Disney’s crowning achievement meet expectations? Apparently not — and we know why.
A Certified Box Office Hit Around the World
Everyone knew The Lion King was going to rock the box office even when all we had was the teaser. People on Twitter went crazy over how adorable Simba looked.
The teaser trailer alone had over 220 million views in 24 hours. Then we got word of the full cast and social media was once again abuzz with the lineup, which included Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, and even Beyonce.
On July 19, it was released in cinemas and beat every other film by a significant margin. The Lion King earned a whopping $191 million.
Its domestic run would end at $436 million while the foreign box office amounted to $758 million. In total, the 2019 adaptation earned $1.2 billion.
The Good: Technical Prowess and a Great Cast
The Lion King is proof that animation technology has yet to reach its peak. We were already impressed with the details in The Incredibles 2, but this one took it on a whole other level.
This movie made everything so photorealistic that people began to argue that it was more live-action than animated. You could say it was right out of a high-definition National Geographic documentary.
The cast did a fine job. Seth Rogen was born to play Pumbaa — and the same goes for John Oliver as Zazu. Plus, Beyonce could never do wrong.
The Bad: Not Enough Heart Through the Animation
If there’s one thing the 2019 version of The Lion King proves, it’s that you can’t hide a lack of emotional weight with groundbreaking, photorealistic animation.
For one, why was “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” sang in the daytime? Surely this wasn’t some sort of parody? Second, how can the new Lion King be 30 minutes longer than the original yet have some memorable moments removed?
It seems that Disney forgot what made the 1994 film so beloved. Sure, it was in 2D animation, but it was the perfect style for the story.
In the original Lion King, you can better see how the characters reacted. You could see when they’re happy, sad, or in anguish. That’s because 2D animation can make characters animated — they were lively and full of expressions.
Compare that to what we have now: Photorealistic yet lifeless characters. The voice acting can only do so much when the animals just look so ordinary.
The 2019 adaptation is what would happen if someone decided to combine clips from Planet Earth 2 with audio clips from the original Lion King.
This time, Disney went all-out for the spectacle and forgot just how significant the playful 2D animation was to the box-office and critical success of the original.