How does Disney's live-action The Lion King remake compare to the original animation? Find out in our trailer breakdown!

The first trailer for The Lion King has finally released. This is one of the most-anticipated Disney films of 2019, due to release in July next year, and fans have been eager to get a glimpse of director Jon Favreau's handiwork ever since footage screened at D23. Now it's here, above all, this new Lion King trailer stresses a remarkable sense of continuity between the animated classic and the upcoming live-action adaptation, with Favreau reproducing some of the most beloved scenes in Disney history.

Related: Disney's Upcoming Movie Releases - From 2018 to 2023

The Lion King is entirely CGI-created, with Donald Glover in the starring role of Simba, and Beyoncé as Nala. The award-winning singer is even collaborating with Elton John on a brand new song for the remake, although new elements really aren't the focus at this point. Indeed, one of the biggest announcements for the live-action remake of The Lion King was the return of James Earl Jones as Mufasa, and the trailer uses this to its full advantage through a powerful voice-over. But there's a lot more than just Mufasa's voice; here's how the live-action remake looks side-by-side against the 1994 classic.

Sunrise Over The Savannaland

This opening shot - of sunrise over the Savannaland - sets the scene in every way. Firstly, it tells viewers that Jon Favreau's The Lion King will be a very faithful remake; this image is a direct recreation of the original's opening scene. It also serves as an excellent point of contrast, showing the difference between making a stylized animation and a live-action CGI film.

In the animated movie, there's a vast grassland with only one of the iconic African Baobab trees. In The Lion King remake, the landscape is far more complex. In a smart move, the passage of the sun through the sky becomes the central theme of the trailer. First Mufasa's voice tells Simba that "everything the light touches is our kingdom." Then he moves on, reflecting on the fact that one day the sun will set upon his reign, and rise upon Simba's. That, of course, is essentially the entire story of The Lion King summed up in one simple voice-over.

The Antelopes

Most of the opening scenes in the trailer are lifted straight from "The Circle of Life," including this one. All the animals of Africa are presented as instinctively knowing that their future king has been born. It's fascinating to contrast the CGI approach being used in the remake with the animated Lion King; there's exactly the same sense of beauty and anticipation, even if the live-action version is naturally far more detailed. It's no coincidence Disney has chosen to show the antelopes; they played a major part in "The Circle of Life," where they were shown leaping through the Savannas and then bowing in Simba's presence.

Mount Kilimanjaro

This is Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa that looms over the Savanna. Traditional African religions have always considered Kilimanjaro to be a holy place, and The Lion King incorporated it loosely into its mythology by featuring it in "The Circle of Life." In the animation, Kilimanjaro was presented as a simple, tabular mountain; the live-action remake is far more true to life; the shrinking glaciers on the peak are particularly visible. Additionally, while the original attempted to give a sense of Kilimanjaro's height by showing clouds below the summit, they weren't quite so prominent as in the remake.

Kilimanjaro aside, the shot from The Lion King 2019 has an immense attention to detail; even the elephants and birds in the foreground are carefully remade.

Related: All The Live-Action Disney Remakes In Development

The Birds Fly

Here's one point in The Lion King trailer where the live-action movie deviates somewhat. Although this shot is pulled straight out of the animated Disney film, the perspective has been changed to make it more dramatic; the camera initially focuses tightly upon a few of the birds, then pans up to reveal the size of the flock, and to show more of the beautiful environment they're flying over. The Lion King trailer places this image very cleverly indeed, taking full advantage of the sun's visibility in the shot and reinforcing its central themes.

Mufasa's Speech & James Earl Jones' Voice

By now, it will be absolutely clear that Disney intends The Lion King 2019 to feel like a love letter to their animated classic. That becomes all the more notable with the trailer's emphasis on James Earl Jones, who played Mufasa in the original and is reprising his role in this film. His stentorian tones stress that sense of continuity, with literally everything revolving around the voice-over. Jones is still every bit the king he was in 1994, and if anything the slightly more graveled tone only makes him feel greater. His speech is that to Simba about him becoming king, the literal explanation of the circle of life.

The Animals Celebrate

Next up, the animals gather at the foot of the mountain, celebrating their new king. The trailer actually jumps out of sequence a little here; in The Lion King, this shot is from towards the end of "The Circle of Life," when the young Simba has been presented to his celebrating people. Additionally, it highlights a change. In the animated film, the animals tended to stick together in groups, so you had shots with just the zebras, the giraffes, or the elephants; the remake attempts to give a real sense that all the creatures of Africa are celebrating together, side-by-side.

Also notice that this live-action remake remembers the low position of the sun; it's still early in the morning after all, and the sun's height is a symbol of the new dawn. That's an interesting touch that wasn't stressed in the 1994 Lion King until the moment Simba was held aloft into a sunbeam.

Simba In Mufasa' Paw Print

The Lion King trailer finally moves away from "The Circle of Life," showing one of the most powerful and symbolic moments from The Lion King - the young Simba places his paw within the print of his father's. This scene is invested with so much meaning, symbolizing how far Simba has to go before he can truly live up to Mufasa's legacy. It's interesting to note that the camera angles have been switched up, possibly so as to make the scene work naturally in live-action. The first poster for The Lion King has used the same image quite effectively.

Page 2 of 3: More of Our Lion Trailer Breakdown & Comparison

The Wildebeest Stampede

The wildebeest stampede is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in The Lion King, with Scar launching his plan to have Mufasa killed. This is hammered home by the trailer playing this shot over Mufasa stressing that there will be a day when the sun sets upon his rule.

This sweeping shot also highlights another stylistic switch in the 2019 remake; it's a longer take of the stampede running into the valley, and comes earlier in the sequence than any similar shot in the 1994 animation. It looks as though Favreau's version of The Lion King will pan out from Simba quicker.

Pride Rock

Back to "The Circle of Life," with probably the most famous scenes from The Lion King reproduced in a tremendously faithful way. This is Pride Rock, and the attention to detail is remarkable. Notice that the overall shape of the rock has changed subtly, made more realistic given the way erosion would operate on such an outcrop.


Rafiki is one of the most beloved characters in The Lion King, a wise Mandrill who serves as priest to the Pride. It is his honor and privilege to anoint Simba as prince, and present the young lion cub to his people. One of the most interesting changes here is that the live-action version of Rafiki doesn't have his signature staff. Presumably, Disney felt that wouldn't work in live-action, but it will mean some scenes will have to play out a little differently.

A First Glimpse of Simba

This is the first glimpse of the young cub Simba, curled up in his mother's arms. Notice that, in both shots, the fur on Simba's head appears to be wet; in the original version, Simba's mother Sarabi licked Simba's head to make him turn to face his father. Presumably the same will be true of the The Lion King remake.

Related: Jon Favreau Details His Approach To Remaking The Lion King

The Ceremony Begins

Rafiki prepares to anoint the new King. This scene seems to have been switched up a little judging by The Lion King trailer; in the animated version, he's using a fruit, where here he appears to be breaking a plant of some kind. It's unclear why a change has been made, but both snap apart to the same kind of effect, though.

The Anointing of Simba

Rafiki swipes this mysterious red substance across Simba's brow. Notice that both versions of The Lion King attempt to create a sense of character for the young cub, but it's slightly different; the Simba of the animation seemed amused at the sticky liquid, whereas the live-action cub doesn't appear to be too impressed. Rafiki also uses a different hand, presumably a move towards realism. It will be interesting to see if the remake follows the full sequence, with Rafiki then dropping some African dust on Simba's head and causing him to sneeze.

Page 3 of 3: The Final Part of Our Lion Trailer Breakdown & Comparison

The Presentation of Simba

Of course the presentation of Simba had to be shown in The Lion King trailer - it's one of the most beloved moments in the whole of Disney history. It's been reproduced remarkably faithfully for live-action, right down to the same unimpressed expression on Simba's face as he's held over the edge of Pride Rock and sees a mass of strange creatures below him.

The Animals Bow

After the future King is presented, the animals bow. Notice that, in The Lion King 2019, the bowing of the animals is less pronounced; a cartoon can get away with exaggerated bowing, including from some creatures whose bodies aren't really designed for that. The live-action remake doesn't have the same degree of freedom. As before, Favreau's version has the animals intermingling a lot more - there's a single shot showing giraffes, zebras, antelopes, a rhino, and elephants in the background.

Simba Presented On Pride Rock

It's time for another wide shot of Pride Rock, showing the multitude of animals who have come to celebrate the birth of Simba. To cap off the accuracy, The Lion King trailer even recreates the same zoom out.

One detail is missing from the remake, however: the clouds parting and a sunbeam falling upon the cub as he is held aloft in Rafiki's arms. That's probably because Favreau found that aspect a little unrealistic and chose not to have the sky be quite so overcast (which also allowed for greater use of the sun during those sequences).

As in the 1994 movie, The Lion King trailer then smash cuts to the title. However, the two logos, while sharing some qualities, are rather different. The modern version features wider lettering, allowing for a beautiful weathered effect. The change in colorscheme is interesting, but it makes sense; again, it contributes to the feeling that these words are carved in stone. All in all, this new logo emphasizes once again that the film is a homage to the Disney classic, but also reassures viewers that it will be a new experience.

The Part Skies At The End Of The Lion King

The final part of The Lion King trailer takes us to the very end of the movie; while many may suspect this is the scene where the ghost of Mufasa visits his son, it's actually from the end of the film when the clouds part following Scar's defeat. This is where Mufasa departs, telling his son "remember".

The moment is fairly well recreated, with one difference: it's not raining. Based on the next shot, that suggests a visually divergent finale.

The Adult Simba

The Lion King trailer ends with a brief glimpse of the adult Simba, who steps up to Pride Rock and roars to declare that the King has returned. It's a stunning moment, filled with power and emotion, and is perhaps the best show that the remake is nailing the most important aspects of the original.

Perhaps the most interesting difference here is the color of Simba's mane; rather than the dramatic, exaggerated red of 1994, Favreau has gone for more realistic, natural colors. That's perfectly in keeping with the approach he's been going for across The Lion King trailer.

More: The Lion King Live-Action Trailer, Cast, Every Update You Need

Key Release Dates