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Moonlight director Barry Jenkins hired by Disney to direct Lion King sequel: ‘It’s a dream come true’

Nick Duffy September 30, 2020
Moonlight director Barry Jenkins has been hired by Disney

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins has been hired by Disney (Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for A24)

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins has been hired by Disney to direct a follow-up to its CGI remake of The Lion King.

The filmmaker, best known for helming the 2016 Oscar-winning gay drama, has signed on to direct the follow-up to the 2019 live-action film, which starred Donald Glover and Beyoncé.

According to Deadline, screenwriter Jeff Nathanson will return to pen the follow-up, which will “move the story forward while looking back” and “further explore the mythology of the characters, including Mufasa’s origin story”.

Barry Jenkins says directing Lion King follow-up for Disney is a ‘dream come true’.

While there’s plenty of precedent for a Lion King follow-up, it’s not thought the film will adapt the 1994 animated sequel, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride.

Jenkins said in a statement: “Helping my sister raise two young boys during the 90s, I grew up with these characters.

“Having the opportunity to work with Disney on expanding this magnificent tale of friendship, love and legacy while furthering my work chronicling the lives and souls of folk within the African diaspora is a dream come true.”

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins has been hired by Disney
Moonlight director Barry Jenkins has been hired by Disney (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

Last year’s remake of The Lion King made more than $1.6 billion at the box office, shattering records for a Disney live-action release, and spawning Beyoncé visual album Black is King.

It’s unclear if the entire voice cast, which includes Billy Eichner, James Earl Jones, Alfre Woodard and John Oliver, are slated to return for the follow-up.

Taking to Twitter to share the news, Jenkins wrote: “This. Yes, THIS.”

Fans are imagining a MoonlightLion King mash-up.

One fan quipped: “Barry’s pitch to Disney be like, ‘A young lion grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood. Told in three separate stories with three different…lions?'”

Another wrote: “The Lion King except they’re all secretly gay. Can’t wait.”

Moonlight, a loving portrait of a gay African-American man, was the winner of Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards – but the historic win is also remembered for a mix-up that saw La La Land erroneously named the winner.

Jenkins has spoken previously about how the famous fail robbed him of the chance to deliver the acceptance speech he had planned – and has read his planned victory speech on subsequent occasions.

More: Barry Jenkins, Disney, Moonlight, the lion king

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