I never saw The Lion King when I was growing up. I was a little on my way out of high school by the time that it popped. But I know a lot of folks adore the film. Despite having never watched it, somehow, I know a reference to it when I see it on TV or in films. It's a cultural touchstone. It's a hell of a big deal, so much so that, instead of letting it stand as a classic, It's being remade.
The animation in the trailer of Jon Favreau's rehash of the Lion King looks outstanding. It's got a blend of realism and cutesy cartoon going on that I think both kids and grownups will dig. But I have to wonder why this thing exists. Disney's well-known for pulling their intellectual property out of cold storage from time to time, making a bundle of money off of Blu-ray sales and digital downloads and then stashing it away again until for another decade. It's absolutely genius: who wouldn't want to share the films they adored when they were children with their own children. If you saw the original Lion King in a theater with your family, how excited would you be to share that experience with your own child? I'd imagine it'd feel pretty good. Currently, the Lion King is available to download from iTunes. I'd be very interested to understand the financial soothsaying that goes into determining that a whole new imagining of a classic film You can it from Amazon, too. Both sell for under $20. If the kids watching the original version of the film are anything like my nephew, they'll watch it until their TV catches fire at home and then giddly give it another go on the big screen. Throw the original back on the big screen. It's already paid for. It'll pretty much print its own money.
I'm a long way from poo-pooing this remake. I may go and see it if I'm near a theater when it comes out. I love Favreau's work (Chef? Iron Man? Rudy? I mean c'mon) and want to see more of what he has to offer. More than this, the world needs joy. This is the sort of film that can, hopefully, supply some of that. But I'd love to understand the thinking behind how spending millions of dollars and years of time retreading something that so many people feel is wonderful could ever make more money–that's the point of a re-make when it comes down to it–than the original that it's based on.