Mufasa: The Lion King Trailer Brings Director Barry Jenkins To The Pride Lands

Mufasa: The Lion King

by Ben Travis |
Updated on

You have to admit, even the promise of it is fascinating: what does a photoreal-animated Lion King film look like when it comes from Barry Jenkins – the director of Moonlight, and If Beale Street Could Talk, and The Underground Railroad? We’re about to find out, because Jenkins is directing Mufasa: The Lion King, the follow-up to Jon Favreau’s 2019 The Lion King remake – ostensibly a prequel about the rise of Simba’s legendary dad, but also weaving in sequel threads following Simba and Nala’s burgeoning family. And it’s not that Jenkins is being parachuted in – he’s working with his regular cinematographer James Laxton, and editor Joi McMillon, bringing his impeccable craft to an entirely different type of filmmaking, with the biggest tools blockbusterdom can bring. Check out the trailer here:

There’s plenty to dig into here – particularly those big names in the cast list. While the film is focused on Mufasa, all of the major players from Favreau’s film are back, including Donald Glover and Beyoncé as Simba and Nala, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa, and John Kani as Rafiki. And joining them this time? None other than Blue Ivy Carter, daughter of Beyoncé herself, as cub Kiara – a name sure to be familiar to fans of straight-to-video sequel The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride. The young Mufasa is being voiced by Aaron Pierre, with Kelvin Harrison Jr. as the kid-who-would-be-Scar. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, Thandiwe Newton and Mads Mikkelsen are joining this time around as well. That’s a seriously stacked cast.

And we haven’t even mentioned Lin-Manuel Miranda yet – who, as is confirmed here, has been brought in on songwriting duties. Since he isn’t working on the upcoming Moana 2, it’s clear his attention has been elsewhere instead, cooking up songs to follow in the lineage of Elton John, Tim Rice and Lebo M. No pressure.

As for the film’s narrative, there isn’t a huge amount to go off yet – but it’s clear we’ll see Mufasa’s rags-to-riches rise, coming from nothing to become the legendary leader we know and love. It’ll be fascinating to see exactly what hooked Jenkins into telling this particular story, and there are some real hallmarks from the filmmaker in here – that lingering shot on Mufasa’s furry face is a pure ‘Barry Jenkins character close-up’… which just happens to be a close-up of a lion. We’ll see exactly what’s in store when Mufasa: The Lion King comes to UK cinemas from 20 December.

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