The original Lion King animators are hurt by Disney’s remake. The latest of the studio’s live-action redos just crossed the $1 billion mark at the global box office after less than a month in theaters, but the people who worked on the 1994 version aren’t very excited about the success. All of the Disney’s remakes have been divisive, to say the least, but The Lion King has really been the one to anger the crews who put together the original movie for a number of reasons.

Many of the animators who worked on the original 1994 version of The Lion King will not talk publicly about their feelings on the remake. One person said, “I will only get myself in trouble if I comment on the ‘other’ version,” when asked about the current remake. However, David Stephan, an animator who worked on the original hyena designs, was more than happy to share his feelings. He had this to say.

“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.”

One animator, who wished to remain anonymous, says, “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.” This seems to be the most common gripe about The Lion King remake and the others Disney has put out over the years. People who worked on the original movies and even wrote them are not being compensated. As for why this is happening, David Stephan believes it’s all about the money and where it comes from. He explains.

“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.”

After watching The Lion King remake from Disney, David Stephan thinks it diminishes the original story. The realism has been one of the things critics have praised about the movie, but Stephan thinks it’s too realistic and takes away from who the characters really are in the story. The remake looks incredible, but it might not be the best thing for propelling a story along. Stephan had this to say about the realism on the big screen.

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“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 original animated versions of Disney’s classic movies are untouchable for a lot of fans and many believe that the remakes don’t come close to capturing the original magic. David Stephan and the team that put The Lion King together would have to agree and are more than a little bummed out by Disney’s decision to keep churning them out (the studio put out three this year). Some of the original animators admit they haven’t even seen the new Lion King and they don’t plan on it either. The interview with David Stephan and crew was originally conducted by The Huffington Post.

Cinemark Movie Club


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