Where was the remake of The Lion King filmed?

Where was The Lion King filmed
Disney’s remake of the beloved animation The Lion King was one of the biggest hits of 2019. Modeled after the 1994 film of the same name, this computer-generated animation grossed over $1.6 billion worldwide. With this feat, it overtook another magical animation, Frozen, to become the highest-grossing animation film.

Away from the box office, this film gave us massive doses of nostalgia. Just like the 25-year-old original, it transports us to the Pride Lands of Africa, where Mufasa rules and everything follows the circle of life. Scar, Mufasa’s younger brother, is still blind with envy and spends his days scheming on how to take over his brother’s throne.

Young Simba, the heir to the throne, is curious and carefree- a trait that Scar soon uses to his advantage. Scar tricks Simba into going to a gauge, hoping he will be trampled on by a large herd of wildebeest. He manages to escape, but not before his father Mufasa loses his life trying to save him. Scar gets his wish and becomes king, though he finds the job harder than he bargained for. Simba must now grow up amid adversity and return to fight for what is rightfully his.

Other than the storyline, which was pretty close to the original, what wowed in this movie was the use of technology to bring the jungle to life. According to the director of photography Caleb Deschanel, all the scenes were created by cutting edge computer-generated imagery (CGI) in a virtual reality environment.

The Lion King Filming Locations
Even though all the computer work was done at Playa Vista California, scenes in The Lion King 2019, like in its predecessor, were very much inspired by the Kenyan jungle. In fact, before production, a 13-member crew spent two weeks in Kenya. Image courtesy of Disney


Masai Mara Game Reserve
For this movie, the team took hundreds of shots in different locations, including the world-famous Masai Mara Game Reserve. Although most of the shots did not make it to the film, the opening sunrise scene was filmed at Masai Mara in a place called Rhino Ridge. It is also this vast jungle dotted with acacia trees and wide-open spaces that gives Pride Lands its look. Image courtesy of Ray in Manila - Map


The Pride Rock
For the iconic Pride Rock, the team found inspiration in the dramatic Ndoto Mountains and Chyulu Hills in Southern Kenya. In the original movie, Pride Rock was inspired by Hells Gate National Park, a place with some of the most dramatic landscapes in Kenya. Its many gorges might also have inspired the scene where wildebeest almost trample over young Simba. Image courtesy of Disney - Map


Waterfall Mt. Kenya
The Cloud Forest, where Simba goes off to exile, was inspired by the slopes of Mt. Kenya. Production designer James Chinlund found the location ‘new and very exciting’, describing it as having just the kind of ‘textures’ that he needed for the jungle. Karuru Falls, in the Aberdare National Park, inspired the location where Nala and Simba meet again after many years apart. Simba asks to show Nala around and the cascading waterfall can be seen in the distance as they marvel at the beauty that surrounds them. Image courtesy of Orientalizing - Map


Mono Lake in California
The Tufa Stacks at Mono Lake in California inspired the scene pictured. The computer-generated imagery is terrific in this film, but it is the star-studded cast that carries it home. James Earl Jones comes back as Mufasa, and his booming voice brings back great memories of the 1994 film. The queen herself, BeyoncĂ©, makes a debut as Nala, Simba's childhood friend, no doubt thrilling her millions of fans. Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) voices the evil Scar, Mufasa’s younger brother.

As with any film, The Lion King has had its share of criticism. One of the loudest complaints is that well, we have already seen The Lion King. This is in reference to the fact that the 2019 remake is quite similar in the script to the 1994 original film, and does not bring anything new to the table. Director Jon Favreau defended this move spiritedly and is quoted saying that ‘Everybody’s got their formula. I’m not saying this is the way you do it, but it’s the way I’ve done it. You don’t want to reinvent it completely’. Image courtesy of Disney - Map


African landscape tree
Interestingly, one of the best aspects of the film was also a source of criticism. The use of technology was so advanced that the producers were able to bring out the jungles of Africa so realistically that it transports us to the faraway lands. Yet, there is something slightly disturbing about a singing lion. Most 1994 diehards also decry the lack of emotion in the new instalment. Despite this, there is no denying that The Lion King remake brought the film to life in a whole new way. If you put it in terms of sports, for the football betting enthusiasts, it was a touchdown for film-making.

By making it look like live action as opposed to an animation, the producer depicted just how far technology can go, leaving us wondering what movies will look like in the future. Even with the pockets of criticism, it is clear that The Lion King is still one of the most beloved movies of all time.

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