The Lion King remake: Could big changes come without the original writer?


The original scriptwriter for The Lion King revealed that she couldn’t be involved in the process of creating the movie. And based on past movies, there could be some noticeable changes.

With Disney’s live-action reboot fever in full swing, it’s easy to see that the company has taken some liberties when it comes to recreating these movies. The ending of The Jungle Book is completely different, Cinderella meets the prince before she even goes to the ball, and in the upcoming Mulan remake, there will be no Li Shang.

Some people may be able to look over these differences, but when you’re the one involved in the original films, those changes might not be so easy to take. The Lion King’s original screenwriter, Linda Woolverton, shared her feelings about the Disney live-action model recently, and it’s clear to see that sometimes small changes really do mean more than you think.

Woolverton appeared on The Hollywood Reporter’s podcast It Happened in Hollywood to discuss the past and future of Disney. Since The Lion King remake isn’t out yet, Woolverton couldn’t say much about the movie. But the screenwriter also penned the original Beauty and the Beast script, and she shared some concern about the changes that were made in the live-action update starring Emma Watson.

She wasn’t completely sold on the new characterization of LeFou, which accrued a bit of controversy after he was portrayed as being in love with Gaston. Woolverton remarked: “Was he in love with Gaston? No. He was just a toady and besotted with a person he could never be.”

The writer also found fault with the Beast being able to leave the castle. If you recall, there’s a scene where an enchanted book transports the two back in time to Belle’s home in Paris, technically meaning the Beast was outside of the castle.

“The castle is supposed to be impenetrable,” Woolverton said on the podcast. “After that, the mythology didn’t work for me.”

The Hollywood Reporter makes a note to mention that Woolverton was not brought into the process of creating the Beauty and the Beast remake, and she wasn’t happy to be left out. Now, with the Lion King remake, the same story remains true. Woolverton wasn’t involved at all, and that could mean the script could see some questionable changes as well.

As of now, Disney hasn’t released a full synopsis of the movie, so we don’t know much about if and how the plot will differ from the 1994 animated film. Although, on the YouTube trailer, the description reads:

"From Disney Live Action, director Jon Favreau’s all-new “The Lion King” journeys to the African savanna where a future king must overcome betrayal and tragedy to assume his rightful place on Pride Rock."

Due to its brevity, the description for the CGI-remake is 100 percent the same storyline of the animated movie, which means it looks like nothing major from the plot will change just yet.

For example, with the whole point of the movie being about “the circle of life,” we’re sure the ending won’t change to the same extent as The Jungle Book’s. (In other words, there’s very little chance that in the end, Simba and Nala don’t get together and have a cub of their own to show off on Pride Rock — because then the circle of life would be broken.)

Side characters are likely to take a hit, with Timon and Pumbaa, the hyenas, or even Rafiki being a few of the characters who could change in the new film. With so little at stake for these side characters, it’s easy to change things around without there being too many changes to the plot — or add in someone new, as with Amy Sedaris’ elephant shrew. But, hopefully, Disney will stick to staying true to Woolverton’s script and do her justice for the timeless story that she created.

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The Lion King remake is out in theaters July 19, 2019. There will more than likely be a second, longer trailer with more information out before then.