Jon Favreau talks Lion King, Jungle Book 2 and shooting them back-to-back

I think audiences were pleasantly surprised that the live-action adaptation of THE JUNGLE BOOK didn't suck, so it was no surprise that Disney offered up director Jon Favreau the chance to do a sequel, as well as a new version of THE LION KING. By all accounts he's the right man for the job and speaking recently with Collider, he talked a bit about the challenges of doing both of those films, as well as shooting them back-to-back! Take a look!

Jon Favreau on JUNGLE BOOK 2:

For Jungle Book 2, it’s all about the story, all about the script, all about the characters and we’re working on that, and making a lot of progress and have some stuff that feels connected. Because you want it to feel like the first film. You want it to feel not like you’re doing a different genre a film because you’re doing another chapter, you want it to feel connected to the original.

Regarding THE LION KING:

With Lion King, there you have such a strong original film, and then there was a theater production of it as well in a different medium that was very well received and successful and still continues to play. And you have a lot of people with very deep memories and connections to those properties so you want to make sure that, even though the story is very strong, you want to make sure it translates well to yet another medium and doesn’t feel like it’s duplicating or trying to outdo what was done in another medium.

How do you include the music and the look and the characters and the story points? And can you do it convincingly so that it feels like you’re actually observing real animals in nature while still preserving the characters and the tone and the personality aspects of the film and what tonal things have to change. Having been through it on Jungle Book was very helpful, but what a tremendous opportunity because people feel so connected to it, but with that comes such a tremendous responsibility because you don’t want to do anything that undermines people’s connection to the original, which is so wonderful.

The thing is that the animated version of The Lion King is — I don’t know how you outdo that. It works tremendously well. I think it was sort of the end of the era before the 3D animation started coming in, and I don’t think anybody wants to see an animated version because if you want to see an animated version, look at the original. It holds up, it’s still wonderful to watch. So the trick is can you make it look like you actually found real animals in a real environment? And how do you translate the story through that? And in that sense, what we learned on Jungle Book as we got into the photorealism of the environments and the characters, the behavior of the animals, how do you use the lessons you learned there, but adjust it to the tone of what Lion King is? Because I think that when you hear the opening song, when you see those images, the photography of it, even in 2D it is arresting, and I try to imagine what it could be like using the tools that we have today and could we make audiences feel the same way and retell the same myth using these new tools? So the challenge becomes how do you have it look photoreal? And what has to be adjusted so that it doesn’t feel inconsistent? In Jungle Book, if we just took everything that was in the ’67 film, that humor would have been too broad for a live-action, and also you have to take into account that these look like real animals, so the intensity of it gets really notched up. So understanding the lessons that we learned from Jungle Book is really helpful as we develop this, but it’s all a discovery process. And fortunately, working with a lot of the same people and it feels like a continuation of that journey.

On shooting both movies back-to-back:

I think we’re kind of learning a lot about how this all works right now I’m kind of full bore into developing the tools to tell the story for Lion King, because you’re sort of developing whole new sets of tools for each production. And right now in the story phase, getting the story right for Jungle Book 2. I don’t know. Right now the plan is that we go right from one into the other, but I know from having worked on two superhero movies back to back, these take many many many years. I was working on Marvel movies for like four years back-to-back. It’s a big chunk of your life and you have to make sure that you’re excited and can bring all of your attention and concentration to bear on this, because they are really big puzzles. Every film is a puzzle you have to solve — these highly technical ones are like 3D chess. There’s like a whole other level to it that has to be understood and learned.

Favreau has always struck me as an intelligent man, and he certainly seems to know what he's doing behind the camera. While I wasn't JUNGLE BOOK's biggest fan, I want to see where he'll take the sequel, as well as his adaptation of THE LION KING. I'm certainly glad that he's taken some notes from Pixar and won't rush into either project until the story is just right. That leaves plenty of time for Neel Sethi to take some acting lessons...

Source: Collider



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