Disney’s New Lion King Is the VR-Fueled Future of Cinema

For the 26 million people who watched Friends in the mid-’9 0s, Jon Favreau was Pete Becker. Not the sun filmmaker who would conclude Elf a holiday classic; or who’d launch the Marvel juggernaut by directing Iron Man; or who’d update The Jungle Book for the CGI generation. Time Becker, a tech wizard who–before courting Monica in a six-episode arc–had become a gazillionaire by creating a piece of business software called Moss 865. It was so named for a reason. Moss 1 exploded. Moss 2 would only schedule appointments for January. Becker, reassured his idea would change the world, pressed on. Today, it’s hard to describe Favreau’s latest project, the much-anticipated Lion King remake, without thinking of Pete Becker.

In fact, it’s hard to describe the cinema at all.

There are some self-evident facts, sure. The Lion King is the next installment in Disney’s series of reworked animation classics, which includes not just The Jungle Book but also live-action updates of Cinderella and Aladdin. The film’s Bambi-meets-Hamlet plot, in which an African lion baby reputation Simba flees his savanna-ruling family after his father’s death, is nearly identical to the 1994 megahit that remains the highest-earning G-rated movie of all time. James Earl Jones reprises his capacity as the murdered king Mufasa, joined this time around by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Beyonce, Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, and others. If you’ve seen the trailer, there’s one other obvious information: The brand-new Lion King rides an atomically thin line between CGI animation and live action.