Home Entertainment ‘Lion King’ Prequel ‘Mufasa’ Debuts Majestic CinemaCon Trailer Filled With Stampeding Animals...

‘Lion King’ Prequel ‘Mufasa’ Debuts Majestic CinemaCon Trailer Filled With Stampeding Animals and Dazzling Sahara Setting

28
0

Disney is welcoming the king of the Pride Lands back to Las Vegas. The studio unveiled a stirring, all-new trailer of “Mufasa: The Lion King” on Thursday at CinemaCon, the annual convention for movie theater owners.

“Mufasa: The Lion King” is expected to focus on the early years of the eventual ruler of the animals, as well as his menacing younger brother Scar. The film will feature the voices of Aaron Pierre and Kelvin Harrison Jr. as the younger version of Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones in the 1994 film and 2019 remake) and Scar (voiced by Jeremy Irons in the 1994 version and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the 2019 remake).

The brief but majestic footage, which isn’t yet available to the public, explores the same stunningly realistic African savannah as its predecessor and begins with the iconic “Lion King” overture. A young Mufasa is seen leaping over rhinos and all kinds of jungle creatures as a voiceover from Rafiki sets the scene for a story about “a lion who was born without a drop of nobility in its blood… a lion who would change our lives forever… a lion who will shape our destiny.”

The movie takes place before the events of the studio’s 2019 photorealistic reimagining, rather than the 1994 cartoon. According to the official logline, “Mufasa” returns to the African savanna as Rafiki tells the Kiara, who is the daughter of Simba and Nala, the story of her grandfather. Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen’s Timon and Pumbaa (whose scene-stealing antics were a highlight of the remake) help to narrate the prequel — although they weren’t featured in Thursday’s clip.

“Mufasa” is slated to release in theaters on Dec. 20 and could be the “mane” event of the holidays. But Disney’s recent box office misfortunes signal that brand familiarity isn’t enough to get families to theaters. It will help if the prequel can deliver on tunes as catchy as “Hakuna Matata” and “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.” Director Barry Jenkins traveled to Las Vegas to introduce the first-look footage and teased that “Mufasa” will feature new music. However, he stopped short of revealing any details about what it’ll sound like.

“They are handcuffing me,” Jenkins joked on stage at Caesars Palace. “I can’t tell you who made those new songs, but they are absolutely amazing.”

“The Lion King” prequel has big pawprints to fill. The 2019 remake, directed by Jon Favreau, powered to a staggering $1.66 billion globally despite mixed reviews. “The Lion King” was one of seven Disney films to cross the billion-dollar mark that year. Since the pandemic, though, only six films in total have notched that coveted benchmark.

Jenkins is taking over filmmaking duties on “Mufasa,” following the Oscar-winning “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Those movies carried much smaller budgets, leading Jenkins to joke about straying from his indie roots to make the “Lion King” prequel.

“You are probably wondering… what is the director of ‘Moonlight’ doing talking to me about an eight-quadrant tentpole legacy IP massive film?” he cracked to the room of movie theater owners. “And I gotta say, the thought was very strange to me at first, as well. But oh my god. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, and I’m so glad I made this picture.”

Disney also offered extensive looks at Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” Marvel’s “Deadpool & Wolverine” and “Moana 2” as part of its hours-long presentation to theater owners at CinemaCon.