Mufasa director Barry Jenkins responds to claims he’s sold out by helming the Lion King prequel

Mufasa director Barry Jenkins responds to claims he’s sold out by helming the upcoming Lion King prequel movie.

Barry Jenkins, the director behind movies such as Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk, may not have seemed like the obvious choice to helm Mufasa: The Lion King, but he’s not about to let people accuse him of selling out.

The first teaser trailer for Mufasa: The Lion King officially debuted yesterday, and Barry Jenkins shared it on social media. This prompted some to say that the director is “too good and talented for [Bob] Iger’s soulless machine,” but Jenkins was quick to defend himself. “There is nothing soulless about The Lion King,” Jenkins wrote on X. “For decades children have sat in theaters all over the world experiencing collective grief for the first time, engaging Shakespeare for the first time, across aisles in myriad languages. A most potent vessel for communal empathy.

Another commenter chimed in, saying, “Come on man. I interviewed you when you premiered Moonlight at TIFF, and that Barry Jenkins wouldn’t have said what you just said. You can do a Disney movie for the check, in order to work on your passion projects at a later time, but you don’t have to shill like this.” In response, Jenkins said, “Bruh what kind of logic is that?

Jenkins appeared on CinemaCon in Las Vegas earlier this month to promote Mufasa: The Lion King, explaining that he had seen the original Disney animated movie over 200 times and knew he had to take the job. “When the script came to me I was fascinated by watching these complex people dealing with complex emotions…this film explores Mufasa rise to become the heroic king that we know,” Jenkins said.

Mufasa: The Lion King enlists Rafiki to relay the legend of Mufasa to young lion cub Kiara, daughter of Simba and Nala, with Timon and Pumbaa lending their signature schtick,” reads the synopsis. “Told in flashbacks, the story introduces Mufasa as an orphaned cub, lost and alone until he meets a sympathetic lion named Taka—the heir to a royal bloodline. The chance meeting sets in motion an expansive journey of an extraordinary group of misfits searching for their destiny—their bonds will be tested as they work together to evade a threatening and deadly foe.

Mufasa: The Lion King will hit theaters on December 20th.

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