Jon Favreau proved with Jungle Book that he's capable of pulling off the near-impossible: Translating a beloved animated feature to the big screen. He's also directing the live action Lion King, which has a lot to live up to. And he says some things about the expectations he has to live up to that have us a little concerned.
Favreau's plan for the Jungle Book included creating a set of images that he considered indelible. He broke down why he did so in an interview with Scarlett Johansson at New York City's School of Visual Arts Theatre, according to Entertainment Weekly.
"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," he said. "So, I have to really examine all of those plot points. 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.”
Favreau likened the process to a legacy musical act.
"I think about when Prince played halftime at the Super Bowl," Favreau said. "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...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."
This concerns us a little bit, though we're willing to give him a pass because of how legitimately good the Jungle Book is. When a director goes into a film thinking, "Ok, I've got to hit these visual beats," she restricts herself from allowing the story to develop its own visual language. That's how you get incoherent messes like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which seemed like J.J. Abrams was doing karaoke with the iconic visuals of the past. Of course, that's a different case, as Abrams was also "trying" to tell an "original" "story." But we hope that Favreau allows his very talented cast (and his own talents as a director) to shine without being shackled to hitting certain marks from the original film. We're sure he's capable.