Disney is Remaking The Lion King

The chief purveyor of cinematic comfort food continues to cook with timeless recipes.
By  · Published on September 28th, 2016

The chief purveyor of cinematic comfort food continues to cook with timeless recipes.

Among the many things I love in life are movies (obviously) and comfort food, fried chicken chief among the latter. It’s a quintessentially American obsession, something that is both regional and universal. Just as I’ve sampled the many genres of cinema, I’ve sampled the many genres ‐ Nashville, Georgian, Northeastern, and even Texas ‐ of fried chicken. Just as it is with movies, fried chicken can be found with varying degrees of quality. You can drive through a KFC in any town and get mediocre-to-good chicken. Or you can visit a place like Lucy’s in Austin and get exceptional chicken. But it’s all still fried chicken, an American classic.

I’ve come to realize that there is also plenty of cinematic comfort food. Since the 1970s, zombie films have been a form of comfort food. There are many varieties and levels of quality, but they all share some DNA.

Disney’s desire to remake its classic animated films with modern technology is yet another example, brought forth by the announcement today that Jon Favreau would follow his Jungle Book remake with a similarly styled version of The Lion King.

Following the announcement, a quick scan of Twitter revealed a common reaction: “Why?”

Because just as I will always try the new, hip fried chicken joint that inevitably pops up in my city, people will continue to go see “re-imaginings” of classic Disney movies. Despite being the exact same story made with different technology, The Jungle Book grossed almost a billion dollars at the box office and stands as the fourth biggest release of 2016. It was only beaten by other Disney movies ‐ Captain America: Civil War, Zootopia, and Finding Dory. There’s no doubt that Favreau’s Lion King, a CGI-flavored rework that shares the same story (and reportedly some of the same songs) will bring both cinematic foodies (who love the new tech) and the masses (who just love the familiar) to the theater.

In 10–15 years, the Jon Favreau of the next generation will be tasked with making an immersive virtual reality take on The Jungle Book and The Lion King and those will likely top the list of releases for their respective years. And so on and so forth.

Because after all, we (the royal we) love this kind of cinematic comfort food. Over the years, we will sample slightly different recipes from different chefs, but ultimately we’ll always show up for the new version. Until we don’t. But seeing as I have not yet stopped loving fried chicken, I don’t see that happening any time soon. Is this a bad thing? No. Sometimes we need a little comfort food to make us feel better about what’s happening in our world. Just as we may need to try a local indie tapas joint so that we can feel as if we’re stepping out of our comfort zone every once in a while. But we’ll always come back for some good fried chicken.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)