Original 'Lion King' animators say there is 'huge resentment' towards Disney's remakes

Ben Arnold
Contributor
The Lion King (Credit: Disney)

Some of the original animators who worked on 1994's Disney classic The Lion King are taking issue with the new CGI version.

One has said that 'it hurts' to see their work remade, and have asked why Disney is continuing to revise its material.

Another added that there is 'huge resentment' to the Disney's remakes among original staff.

Read more: The Lion King is Disney’ fourth billion dollar movie of 2019

The Huffington Post contacted 13 of the original animators from the 1994 film, and found that many of them are unhappy.

“There is a huge resentment against these 3D remakes from the original 2D crews. Maybe if we got any kind of royalties it would be different,” said one, who asked to remain nameless.

Another animator, David Stephan, who worked on the hyenas in the original Lion King, and also the Circle of Life opening scene added: “If you polled the crew of the original Lion King, most of them would say, ‘Why? Did you really have to do that?’ It kind of hurts.

1994's The Lion King (Credit: Disney)

“It’s sort of sad that the stockholder is now in the room deciding what movies get made. Disney’s now taken the cover off, and it’s now in your face: ‘Yeah, we just want to make money.’ That’s disappointing as an artist, from a studio that was founded on originality and art.”

It emerged only this week that Disney has made £5.75 billion from remaking its back catalogue movies in under a decade.

Read more: Disney has made billions from its remakes

The studio has also reported record earnings – beating its previous best ever year by July, and with a potential $10 billion box office haul for 2019 in its sights.

Despite the concerns of former staff, this makes it considerably more likely that the studio will continues its current course.

Stephan went on to say that realism was the issue in director Jon Favreau's new movie, and that it detracts from the imagination of the original.

Simba in The Lion King (Credit: Disney)

“It would jar me out of the film, literally. Especially with little Simba walking around. It was too real,” he added.

“And then when he would talk, it reminded me of those old nature films where they would dub the voices over and the lips would move. I thought, ‘Oh, this is really cheap.’ I think it was just too soon for this one.

“I just came away going, ‘Wow, that was a great story that I worked on back in 93.’ How come the apes in Planet of the Apes look so much more alive than the animals in Lion King? This one just said, ‘You know what, let’s cut the expressions out completely. Let’s just keep it real as possible.’ And I think it just diminished the film.”

The movie has already breached the $1 billion barrier at the box office, but critics were lukewarm in reviews, many also finding the photo-realism of the animals distracting, while questioning whether a remake was truly necessary.

The Lion King is out now.