'The Lion King' sequel to be helmed by 'Moonlight' director Barry Jenkins

Key Points
  • Academy Award-winner Barry Jenkins is set to direct a sequel to "The Lion King."
  • "The Lion King" garnered more than $1.5 billion in sales at the global box office in 2019.
  • The film has a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In this article

A still from Disney's "The Lion King" featuring Nala (Beyonce Knowles) and Simba (Donald Glover).

Disney has tapped Academy Award-winner Barry Jenkins to direct a sequel to "The Lion King."

Jenkins directed the independent film "Moonlight," which won the Oscar for best picture in 2016. Jenkins won an Oscar for the adapted screenplay of the film and was nominated as best director.

The studio has spent millions remaking classic Disney animated features as live-action films. For the most part, these adaptations have had massive blockbuster success. "The Lion King" remake garnered more than $1.5 billion in sales at the global box office in 2019.

It is unclear if Disney will be using the 1998 animated sequel "The Lion King II: Simba's Pride" as the basis for the new film. Jeff Nathanson, who wrote the screenplay for the 2019 movie, will also return.

Deadline was the first to report the news.

While "The Lion King" had box-office success, the film was highly criticized by reviewers and audiences. The visuals were praised, but many found the realistic talking and singing lions disconcerting.

"The Lion King" strayed too far into the "uncanny valley" for some critics. The term uncanny valley describes a point when human or animal objects appear almost but not exactly like real humans or animals and elicit uncanny, or strangely familiar, feelings of eeriness and revulsion in viewers.

The film was a beat-for-beat recreation of the 1994 animated film on which it was based, but didn't quite capture the same affection. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 52% rating.

The 2019 film featured a cast that included Beyonce (Nala), Donald Glover (Simba), James Earl Jones (Mufasa), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Scar), Billy Eichner (Timon), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa) and John Oliver (Zazu). It is unclear who is set to return for the sequel.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of CNBC and owns Rotten Tomatoes.