Disney’s recent adaptation of its 1994 animated film The Lion King has been called a live-action remake but in reality, cutting-edge CGI has been used to create animals and the jungle environment on-screen. However, there is one shot in the 2019 movie which is actually live-action. Director Jon Favreau posted a still of this scene — the sunrise shot in an African setting that appears in the beginning of the film — on Instagram, saying: “This is the only real shot in #TheLionKing. There are 1490 rendered shots created by animators and CG artists. I slipped in one single shot that we actually photographed in Africa to see if anyone would notice. It is the first shot of the movie that begins The Circle of Life.”
View this post on Instagram
This is the only real shot in #TheLionKing. There are 1490 rendered shots created by animators and CG artists. I slipped in one single shot that we actually photographed in Africa to see if anyone would notice. It is the first shot of the movie that begins The Circle of Life.
This is not Jon’s first use of CGI in a movie. He also directed The Jungle Book in 2016 but that movie had one human actor who had to actually perform on the sets. In The Lion King, Jon used an evolved version of the technology used to craft the animal characters in his Jungle Book.
The Lion King released on 19th July 2019 and has performed very well at the box office, breaking several records. It has been praised for its visuals but has also been critiqued as some viewers said that the animals were expressionless. Film reviewer Claudia Puig, president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, said in an interview with NPR: “I feel like it's very striking technically. That's also what hinders it in the storytelling. The problem is it's so realistic. You know, where the original - the 1994 original - had this endearingly cheery anthropomorphism, you know, with the wide eyes and the cute expressions, this lacks that. You're marveling at the beauty of the animals, but it just doesn't work with the material.”