The Lion King live-action remake made bank at the box office for Disney in 2019 — it grossed over $1.6 billion globally — and was the second-highest-grossing film of the year both domestically and globally. With figures like that, it's not hard to imagine why Disney would want to pounce on that success, but the president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production Sean Bailey had a wild Star Wars comparison for The Lion King.
Speaking to the New York Times, Bailey claimed that the Lion King franchise has the potential to become a “big, epic saga,” explicitly naming Star Wars as a reference point.
He would go further, saying, “There's a lot of room to run if we can find the stories.”
Perhaps Bailey, when talking about finding the right stories, is referencing the great direct-to-video films The Lion King II: Simba's Pride and The Lion King 1 ½ — those are two stories ripe for picking. Jokes aside, expanding the Lion King franchise is an interesting idea, but how many spinoffs/continuations are really sustainable? Aside from something with Timon and Pumbaa, does anyone want to watch a series or movie with any of the other supporting characters? I'd wager not.
The Lion King is one of Disney's most iconic projects ever — at least the animated film. With a great voice cast, stunning visuals, and an Elton John-constructed soundtrack, it's one of the greatest animated films ever. Its legacy has even carried over to Broadway, where a production of the story has been a staple of Broadway since 1997. The live-action remake is not as beloved. Having not seen it, I'll reserve any judgment, but from those I've spoken to about it, the recurring theme is that it's a carbon copy of the animated film. It seems like even The Little Mermaid — a film that somewhat improves upon its predecessor — did more to differentiate itself.