It's been less than an hour since I published my breakdown of Disney's massive calendar adjustments, and we're already being hit with more news from the Mouse House.
I think it's safe to say that out of all the upcoming Disney remakes of their animated classics, Jon Favreau's re-imagining of The Lion King is one of the most hotly-anticipated. Favreau was widely praised for his visually stunning take on The Jungle Book, and if he can take that sense of visual wonder and blend it with a great story like this, the possibilities are endless. Donald Glover and James Earl Jones headline the growing cast, and the film will debut on the prime spot of July 19, 2019. Disney obviously has a great deal of faith in this one, and considering the insane popularity of the animated film, a final worldwide box office total of over $1 billion feels like a guarantee. But even though it's locked and loaded for a summer 2019 premiere, lots of pieces still need to click into place before Favreau can head into production. Minutes ago, news broke that two of the most iconic roles from the original have finally been cast with two of the most famous comedians on the planet.
According to The Wrap's Matt Donnelly, Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner have been cast as Pumbaa and Timon, respectively. The warthog and meerkat are probably best known for the "Hakuna Matata" number that is the centerpiece of the 1994 film, but in the years since, they've become an essential part of the Disney pop culture lexicon. Rogen is obviously a known commodity, having directed two well-liked comedies (This is the End and 2014's ill-fated The Interview) and starred in many more. He has done plenty of voice work before in kids' movies such as Monsters vs. Aliens and the Kung Fu Panda franchise, as well as last year's raunchy comedy Sausage Party. As for Eichner, the viral comedian has seen his profile rise through Billy on the Street, as well as a few small roles in films like The Angry Birds Movie and Neighbors 2. According to the report, the two actors are in final negotiations.
In my opinion, this is near-perfect casting. While I still think it's kinda hilarious that two comedians known for profane, crude comedy are joining the Disney universe, they really fit the characters. Look for more news on The Lion King as Favreau's film gears up for production. It'll hit theaters on July 19, 2019.