THE LION KING VFX Supervisor Elliot Newman On Adapting Key Moments From The Animated Classic - EXCLUSIVE

The Lion King is a groundbreaking movie in terms of visual effects, and now VFX Supervisor Elliot Newman tells us about how MPC and director Jon Favreau balanced adapting familiar moments with new ones...

The Lion King has been embraced by moviegoers and is doing exceptionally well at the box office, but when reviews started popping up online, some critics found fault with the decision to adhere so closely to the animated classic. While the "live-action" version is quite a bit longer and puts a new spin on certain characters and scenes, it seems as if some simply didn't want to see a remake.

That doesn't make a whole lot of sense considering the fact that the best part about a movie like The Lion King is seeing those cartoons brought to life, and most fans agree that director Jon Favreau found the right balance between respecting what came before and delivering something that still felt fresh. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to The Lion King's VFX Supervisor, MPC's Elliot Newman (The Jungle Book). I asked him about what it was like finding that balance and how much the visual effects team referred back to the cartoon in order to create what we ended up seeing on the big screen. 

"Much of it was Jon's direction but a lot of it was us referring back to the original movie. [It] was such a masterpiece and a really amazing piece of movie history. We knew that there was a huge following for that and so much about it was done so well, we would often say, 'How do we improve this when so much of it is so great?' The original movie was so well done. Jon never wanted to say we were doing a shot for shot remake. He wanted to bring something new and he wanted to make sure it was modern and tell some of the story slightly differently.

"We wanted to honour the original to a degree as well because the audience want that. If you modified it and made it too different, people would be upset because they want that memory and they want to feel that nostalgic moment and be reminded of how that felt. Jon was quite clever in making sure there was a decent balance of the nostalgia from the original and obviously then upgrading the story and visuals to be more modern. He struck a good balance there."

Honestly, that sounds like the perfect approach, and it's fair to say that both Favreau and the movie's VFX team did ultimately strike the right balance between recreating those classic moments to make fans happy while ensuring that we weren't just sitting through the exact same two hour movie. 

Check back here later today for our full, in-depth interview with Elliot about The Lion King!
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