The Lion King remake featured classic song and dance numbers from the animated original, does this mean that The Lion King 2 will have its own set of songs? With the announcement that acclaimed filmmaker Barry Jenkins has signed on as director of The Lion King 2, many are already speculating about what this could mean for the sequel. While Disney did make two direct-to-DVD sequels to the original, The Lion King 1 ½ and The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, it is likely that the songs featured in those two films will not be used and this new film will be a unique take.
Disney has been known to stick closely to their animated originals when it comes to their remakes, and the few times that they have strayed from the source material, or made a sequel to one of their remakes, it has resulted is disappointment either from critics or audiences - sometimes both. Alice Through the Looking Glass and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil were both box office disappointments, and more recently, Mulan received criticism from viewers due to the songs being taken out completely, even though many thought that decision was right for the film. This leaves Barry Jenkins in an interesting position when it comes to his sequel and whether or not it should follow in the footsteps of its predecessor regarding how much music, if any, should be in the film.
The Lion King 2 will likely strike a calculated balance between the familiar and the new. With how disappointed fans tend to get when Disney doesn’t have the classic songs in their remakes, it is reasonably safe to assume that there will be some sort of musical element, even though there are no longer any well-known songs to remake. There are some decent numbers throughout The Lion King 1 ½ and The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, but a director of the caliber of Barry Jenkins is much more likely involved because he's been given the opportunity to try something different. Plus, it would be strange for The Lion King to have songs but not The Lion King 2.
It will be fascinating to see how far Jenkins pushes this and whether it ends up being more like Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book remake, where there are only a handful of songs sprinkled throughout, or if he decides to fill the film with his own batch of potentially hit-making tunes. The only outcome that doesn't seem as feasible is one where all of the songs are stripped out, particularly because The Lion King has always been so intrinsically linked to the songs.
In the case of The Lion King 2, it doesn't seem likely that it will be a song-less Shakespearian drama, as much as that would be a bold and exciting direction to take. Assuming Beyoncé and Donald Glover will be back in their roles as Nala and Simba, respectively, Disney would potentially be leaving money on the table not utilizing their vocal talents. It could be the case that Jenkins involves Beyoncé and Glover in the song-writing process to come up with new, potentially iconic music that don't carry the expectations of matching the legendary status of the originals with them. This is one of the few Disney live-action sequels that could fail or succeed based solely on how the music is handled; only time will tell as more information is revealed about the film.