Disney’s Mufasa: The Lion King drops first trailer for Barry Jenkins’ prequel

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Wenlei Ma
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Screenshots from Disney's Lion King prequel, Mufasa.
Screenshots from Disney's Lion King prequel, Mufasa. Credit: Disney/YouTube

There would be more than a few people who might greet the idea of a prequel to The Lion King with a raised eyebrow.

So did Barry Jenkins, the Oscar-winning director of Mufasa: The Lion King, which just released its first trailer ahead of the movie’s December 19 release.

Jenkins told Empire that by the time he was 40 pages into the script written by Jeff Nathanson, his “scepticism and cynicism had been obliterated”.

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Mufasa is a CGI “live action” feature that tracks the origin story of Mufasa, the king of the Pride Lands and Simba’s father. The teaser trailer isn’t giving too much away, mostly setting up that Mufasa was an outsider to the Pride Lands and wasn’t born with noble blood.

A voiceover from Rafiki says that Mufasa would become, “A lion that would change our lives forever. The Earth will shake, destiny awaits you”. The story is framed primarily through flashbacks with Rafiki telling Kiara, Simba and Nala’s daughter, about her grandfather.

Screenshots from Disney's Lion King prequel, Mufasa.
Mufasa is due for release on December 19. Credit: Disney/YouTube

Jenkins told Empire, “I think the journey that Simba goes on is quite similar to the journey that Mufasa had to go on.”

British actor Aaron Pierre (Jenkins’ acclaimed miniseries The Underground Railroad) takes over the voice role of Mufasa from James Earl Jones while Kelvin Harrison Jr plays a character called Taka, which is the name given to Scar in the 1994 book, The Lion King: A Tale of Two Brothers.

Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner will reprise their roles as Pumbaa and Timon, which they played in Jon Favreau’s 2019 CGI remake. Other returnees include John Kani as Rafiki, Beyonce as Nala and Donald Glover as Simba. Newbies include Thandiwe Newtown, Lennie James, Mads Mikkelsen and Blue Ivy Carter, who will voice Kiara.

The 2019 movie was a mammoth box office success, grossing $US1.66 billion for Disney but netted lukewarm and mixed reviews.

Mufasa will also be Disney’s 19th live-action or CGI remake of its classic animations since the release of Alice in Wonderland in 2010. However, Jenkins’ body of work suggests that Mufasa might be elevated above its stablemates.

The American filmmaker is best known for Moonlight, the Oscar best picture winner about a young gay man growing up in Florida. He also directed the 2018 drama If Beale Street Could Talk, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel, and made miniseries The Underground Railroad, based on Colton Whitehead’s Pulitzer-winning novel.

Mufasa will also have original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda.


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