Mufasa: The Lion King is the prequel to Disney’s 2019 “live-action” remake of their animated classic The Lion King, which in the vein of other recent Disney remakes subs out colorful hand-drawn animation with photorealistic CG animation. Although this new Lion King received mixed reviews for ultimately being a shot-for-shot remake that critics claimed lacked the charm and personality of the original film, it still made over $1.6 billion worldwide, making even more money than its predecessor. Therefore, it’s no wonder Disney wanted to follow up on this remake. The prequel movie is currently set to release in July 2024, with a cast list that includes Aaron Pierre and Kelvin Harrison Jr., among others.
Read on for a comprehensive, easy-to-read guide that will tell you everything you need to know about Mufasa: The Lion King including exactly when it’s being released, the full announced cast list, and who’s directing it.
When Will Mufasa: The Lion King Be Released?
It was revealed at the 2022 D23 Expo, specifically, the Disney and Pixar panel, that Mufasa: The Lion King will be released in 2024. Disney later confirmed that the movie will be released in theaters on July 5, 2024—at least as of now.
Is There a Trailer for Mufasa: The Lion King?
Disney has not yet released a Mufasa: The Lion King trailer to the public, but they did showcase a trailer during the Disney and Pixar panel at the 2022 D23 Expo. This brief teaser shows some familiar faces and hints that the movie may not be like any other prequel (more on that later).
Who Is Directing Mufasa: The Lion King?
Even though Jon Favreau directed the first “live-action” Lion King movie, he will not be directing this prequel, possibly so that he can focus on his Star Wars series The Mandalorian. Instead, Barry Jenkins, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker behind Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk, will direct Mufasa: The Lion King. Despite winning an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Jenkins is currently not credited with writing the new film and will instead direct based on a screenplay from Jeff Nathanson, who wrote the 2019 Lion King. However, Jenkins is an established director with a lot of clout, so he is expected to still bring his artistic sensibilities to this high-budget Disney movie.
Speaking of high budget, Jenkins will most likely film Mufasa: The Lion King in virtual reality similar to how Favreau filmed his remake. Even though Jenkins has never directed an effects-heavy film, he will surely put this technology to good use. Here’s what Jenkins has said about making Mufasa: The Lion King:
“I grew up with these characters, they mean so much to me. I think the work that Jeff Nathanson, the writer, did and going back into really helping children and anyone who ever loved this property understand what it takes. Kings aren’t just born, they aren’t just made. They have to become who they are through a series of events that a lot of people can relate to. So, in that standpoint, it fits very well with everything else I’ve done. So I feel no pressure, I just want to do a good job.”
Who’s In the Cast of Mufasa: The Lion King?
Here are all the actors and characters confirmed to be in Mufasa: The Lion King. Keep in mind the movie is still a long way out, so this may not be the full cast list:
Aaron Pierre voices Mufasa, the kind and noble lion prince of the African Pride Lands. In the original Lion King and its 2019 remake, Mufasa is the king of the Pride Lands and the loving father of future king Simba. James Earl Jones voiced Mufasa in both versions so hopefully, Pierre retains the powerful booming voice that Jones used for his performance. Speaking of Pierre, the British actor reunites with Jenkins after he played a recurring role in the director’s Prime Video miniseries The Underground Railroad. Pierre also popped up in the Superman prequel series Krypton and the M. Night Shyamalan film Old. He is set to appear in the upcoming MCU film Blade, although his character is yet to be revealed.
Kelvin Harrison Jr. voices Taka, aka Scar, Mufasa’s conniving younger brother. In the original Lion King and its remake, Scar seeks to usurp Mufasa and Simba as king of the Pride Lands. Harrison got his start appearing in critically acclaimed indie movies such as It Comes At Night, Luce, and Waves, before moving on to high-profile films such as The Trial of the Chicago 7, Cyrano, and Elvis. That said, this may be his biggest project yet.
John Kani voices Rafiki, the wise yet eccentric baboon sage and close companion of Mufasa. In the D23 teaser for Mufasa: The Lion King, Rafiki is reportedly seen recounting the backstory of Mufasa. Kani first voiced Rafiki in the 2019 remake of The Lion King, to which this new film is a prequel. The South African actor and playwright is also known for playing T’Chaka in MCU films Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther.
Billy Eichner voices Timon, a sarcastic yet caring meerkat who eventually befriends Simba. In the D23 teaser for Mufasa: The Lion King, Timon is seen listening to Rafiki about Mufasa’s backstory. Keep in mind, Eichner first voiced Timon in The Lion King remake. He is also known for playing Craig Middlebrooks in the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation and for hosting the comedic game show Billy on the Street. Additionally, Eichner co-wrote and stars in the rom-com Bros, the first LGBTQ+ romantic comedy to be produced by a major studio.
Seth Rogen voices Pumbaa, the more childlike but still kindhearted warthog best friend of Timon who also becomes close with Simba. In the D23 teaser for Mufasa: The Lion King, Pumbaa is seen with Timon listening to Rafiki’s retelling of Mufasa’s origin. Just like his co-stars, Rogen first voiced Pumbaa in The Lion King remake. He is also known for appearing in not-so-family-friendly comedies such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Pineapple Express, and This is The End.
Are Hans Zimmer and Elton John Making Music for Mufasa: The Lion King?
Hans Zimmer, who composed the musical score for the original Lion King and its remake, will compose the musical score for Mufasa: The Lion King. Not only that, Zimmer will compose the score with Pharrell Williams, the hugely popular music producer who worked with Zimmer on the remake, and Nicholas Britell, the Emmy-winning composer of HBO’s Succession who also scored Jenkins’ last two films. Hearing the combined efforts of these three talented artists sounds exciting (no pun intended), to say the least.
On the other hand, Elton John, who wrote songs for the original Lion King and its remake, will most likely not do the same for Mufasa: The Lion King since he expressed disappointment in the remake shortly after it was released, saying, “the creative vision for the film and its music was different this time around, and I wasn’t really welcomed or treated with the same level of respect.” Jenkins has confirmed that the movie will include musical numbers so hopefully, they’ll be at least close to the work the British musical superstar has done for the franchise, even if he’s not involved in the project himself.
What Is Mufasa: The Lion King About?
Not much is known about the plot of Mufasa: The Lion King at this time. When the project was first announced in 2020, it was said to be a sequel that cuts back and forth between the past and present, similar to The Godfather Part II. Even though publications have more recently defined this new movie as a prequel, the D23 teaser depicts Rafiki telling the backstory of Mufasa to Timon and Pumbaa, so maybe that’s how the movie will shift between the past and present. After all, it’s not so different from Timon and Pumbaa humorously narrating how they first met in the hand-drawn spinoff The Lion King 1 1/2.
Conversely, Mufasa: The Lion King may be adapting the original Lion King tie-in novel The Lion King: A Tale of Two Brothers, which focuses on younger versions of Mufasa and Scar. It seems as though the film is already borrowing one element from this novel since Kelvin Harrison Jr. was originally announced to voice a character named Taka, and the novel explains that Mufasa’s younger brother was named Taka before he became Scar. We’ll hopefully know more about the movie’s plot in the coming months.