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Jon Favreau Talks Live-Action Lion King at Tribeca Film Festival

Director Jon Favreau is no stranger to huge expectations. When he took on directing a live-action remake of Disney’s beloved 1967 animated classic The Jungle Book, he had his work cut out for him. What he and his team pulled off in their version was stunning, a lush, fully realized world of bears, panthers, pythons, a seriously sinister tiger and one very spirited little boy named Mowgli was astonishing.

Favreau’s next project comes with even higher expectations, if that’s possible, a live-action remake of Disney’s 1994 juggernaut The Lion King, one of the most beloved animated films of all time. The Lion King is arguably the Disney film from the studio’s incredible run of critical and commercial successes in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, and remains one of their biggest hits of all time. Favreau is no doubt aware of the pressure that’s on him to not only muck up millions of fans memories of that film, but to deliver something fresh that teases out more of what people love about the original, while offering thrills that weren’t possible back in 1994.

Speaking with Scarlett Johansson at the Tribeca Film Festival for the festival’s Tribeca Talks’ Directors Series, Favreau told his old friend (she’s starred in Chef, Iron Man 2 and The Jungle Book) how he plans on going about this project:

When you’re directing, you have to love [what you’re making]. You have to love it to the point of obsession. I have to live, breathe, sleep it, dream it. If I’m going to do my best work, I need to be completely immersed… you look at the material and you get inspired, and then try to update it for our time. With the Disney stuff, people know even more… With Lion King, people really know [the original], and they grew up with it and it has emotional impact. I think about what I remember about The Lion King?

The Jungle Book was 50 years ago, Lion King was 20, and people grew up with it in an age of video where they watched it over and over again. So, I have to really examine all of those plot points,” Favreau said. “Also, the myths are very strong in it, so you’re hitting something even deeper than the movie sometimes. What I’m trying to do is honor what was there… There are certain expectations people have.”

“I think about when Prince played halftime at the Super Bowl,” he mused. “There was more entertainment packed into that because he hit every song you wanted to hear and he did it the way you remember it or better… You can do that whatever your medium is… to me, it’s like you’re doing a big DJ set for the audience. It’s about the audience having the experience they’re hoping they have, and if you can surprise them along the way, they’ll enjoy it even more, but you gotta live up to what [people] want, so you get greater pressure with these beloved stories.”

Atlanta star Donald Glover, whose already working with Disney on the untitled Han Solo project, will be taking on the role of Simba. 

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Featured image: Jon Favreau on the set of Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN™: HOMECOMING. Courtesy Sony Pictures.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Scores Again With Critics

Now that the review embargo has been lifted on James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we can get a sense of how the sequel stacks up against 2014’s juggernaut first film—and it looks as if there’s very good news in the galaxy. Considering Star-lord, Gamora and the gang aren’t hitting your local multiplex until next week, May 5, we’ll tread lightly here as we roundup some of the reviews and avoid any spoilers. The most important thing for you to know is that the advanced test screening scores revealed audience rankings that were higher than any previous Marvel film, while the critics are more or less writing that Gunn and his team have done it again. We’re going to share some of the broad strokes from the reviews, but click the links at your own discretion, as they’ll likely include more plot information than you’d like.  

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman writes: “Shot for shot, line and line, it's an extravagant and witty follow-up, made with the same friendly virtuosic dazzle.”

indieWire’s Eric Kohn writes: “Gunn remains a wizard of a nearly impossible task. The ex-Troma director is ideally suited to transform what should be a hokey B-movie into one of Marvel's most audacious ongoing storylines.”

USA Today’s Brian Truitt writes: “Just like the first one, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a winning and wonderfully relatable gem of crazy.”

Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger writes that Gunn’s sequel is a visual stunner. “Apart from the pleasure in seeing old characters in new ways, there's also all the eye candy surrounding them. Marvel has never stinted on special effects, but this film is practically psychedelic.”

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Breakups Abound in Season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Netflix released the official trailer for the third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and we can’t possibly wait to be reunited with our favorite mole person and her entourage. Still confused by the outside world yet just as bubbly and positive, Kimmy decides to go to college after finishing her GED. We don’t know what she will be studying, but we’re sure she will be learning a lot

This season is also filled with breakups. Kimmy tries to get a divorce from the Reverend, while Lillian tries to get over her breakup with Bobby. Meanwhile, Tituss draws inspiration from Beyonce’s Lemonade after seeing Mikey with another man.

Tiny Fey and Robert Carlock's odd, impassioned Netflix original makes the most of its surreal premise, offering one of TV's most singular comedies. If you haven't watched it yet, you've got a great treat coming for your next binge watching session. Here's the trailer for season 3:

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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt returns to Netflix on May 19.   

Featured image: Ellie Kemper is the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Courtesy Netflix

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Exhibition Consulting and Analysis

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With over 30 years of international expertise, Andreas Fuchs provides insight into the business of movie theatres.

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