Disney's The Lion King (2019) has received an official runtime and it's nearly half an hour longer than the original 1994 animated version. With the exception of Dumbo, nearly every one of the Mouse House's recent remakes of their animated classics has been a runaway success. It's no surprise, then, that the studio has been even more in active development right now, including new takes on Mulan, Lady and the Tramp, and The Little Mermaid.
Up next is The Lion King, a film that still ranks as the fourth highest-grossing animated movie ever domestically, twenty-five years after its initial release. The Hamlet-esque tale of Simba is getting a makeover in photorealistic CGI (or "live-action", the jury's still out on that) later this month, and the remake is expected to be just as big a monster at the box office as its predecessor. It also hales from director Jon Favreau, who knows his way around a Disney retelling following his efforts on The Jungle Book.
So far, the main areas of concern for The Lion King (2019) are the visuals - as a number of people feel the realistic 3D imagery lacks the expressiveness of the original's 2D animation - and the actual story, which hasn't really promised anything that different. Favreau, for his part, has long said that his movie won't be a shot-for-shot remake of the animated version, and its official runtime has now confirmed as much. According to the BBFC, The Lion King retelling is 118 minutes long, which is 29 minutes longer than the 1994 film.
Admittedly, this news isn't altogether surprising, given that most of the live-action Disney remakes have been significantly longer than their animated predecessors so far. Dumbo's probably the best example of this; where the 1941 animated version was a scant 64 minutes, this year's live-action retelling was nearly twice as long at 112 minutes and greatly expanded upon its story (to the point that it was almost more of a sequel than remake).
At the same time, this doesn't mean that The Lion King (2019) will add an extra half-hour of plot to the animated version's narrative. The live-action Aladdin, for example, was 38 minutes longer than the 1992 animated film, but ended up telling more or less the same story with a few changes to make it feel more modern (plus an additional song and reprise). There's a reasonable chance that The Lion King remake will do pretty much the same thing, so it'll be interesting to see how the movie's reception compares to Aladdin's mixed-to-positive reactions back in May.
- The Lion King (2019) release date: Jul 19, 2019