'The Lion King' Sequel in the Works With 'Moonlight's Berry Jenkins Set to Direct

Disney is reportedly working on a sequel to the live-action adaption of The Lion King released last year. Sources at Walt Disney Studios told Deadline that the first draft of the script is already done, and director Barry Jenkins is on board. The sequel is not expected to follow the storyline of the 1998 animated sequel, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride.

The Lion King grossed $1.6 billion for Disney worldwide, and the company intends to keep the content coming. Insiders told Deadline that screenwriter Jeff Nathanson, who wrote the last installment, has completed his first draft of the follow-up. However, they revealed few details on the story, except for the curious tidbit that it will delve into Mufasa's origin story. The movie will reportedly expand the mythology and characterization of The Lion King cast.

Jenkins is best-known for Moonlight, the emotional tour de force that won him an Oscar for screenwriting in 2016. He told reporters that this project is near and dear to his heart, thanks to its impact on his young nephews in the 1990s.

"Helping my sister raise two young boys during the '90s, I grew up with these characters," he said. "Having the opportunity to work with Disney on expanding this magnificent tale of friendship, love and legacy while furthering my work chronicling the lives and souls of folk within the African diaspora is a dream come true."

Of course, the sequel will continue to utilize the photo-realistic CGI technology that made the first one such a visual spectacle. This method was also the basis for Disney's 2016 live-action reboot of The Jungle Book, and has appeared in other recent movies as well, such as Aladdin.

So far, the cast for the sequel has not been revealed, but this may be a top priority for Disney. The A-list cast was a major selling point for the first installment, including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, Alfre Woodard, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, James Earl Jones, John Oliver, Keegan-Michael Key, Eric Andre, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Amy Sedaris and Chance the Rapper.

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There is also no official title, nor a projected release date for this sequel yet, though Deadline speculates that it will be "a top priority" for the studio. The outlet also noted that Jenkins has plenty of other projects on his plate, including a project at Netflix, a feature-length boxing drama and another biopic for Searchlight. He recently completed a limited series for Amazon Video.

The Lion King — both the 1994 animated version and the 2019 adaptation — are both streaming now on Disney+.