Original ‘Lion King’ animator says ‘weak’ CGI remake ‘hurts’

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This is far from animation’s natural circle of life.

So say three old-school animators who worked on 1994’s “The Lion King,” which inspired the current blockbuster photorealistic version. While reviewers and the box office found the star-studded CGI-remake of the Disney classic astonishing, the original creators are feeling territorial about their pride.


Out of the 13 artists who worked on the classic first movie, only three were willing to be interviewed by the Huffington Post. Others, however, admitted they won’t see the new film.

“There is a huge resentment against these 3-D remakes from the original 2-D crews. Maybe if we got any kind of royalties it would be different,” one anonymous animator tells the site.

“I will only get myself in trouble if I comment on the ‘other’ version,” another says.

The on-the-record trio offers varying levels of critique, with “Circle of Life” and hyena-animator David Stephan summing up the haters: “If you polled the crew of the original ‘Lion King,’ most of them would say, ‘Why? Did you really have to do that?’ It kind of hurts,” he tells HuffPo.

HuffPo’s other two respondents are both fans of director Jon Favreau’s new take.

“Overall, I thought the film stands on its own,” says Dave Bossert, who worked on a variety of the first film’s visual effects.

Scar-animator Alexander Williams says his former co-workers have forgotten working for Disney is a “great privilege,” and the backlash is really just misdirected nostalgia.

“So I don’t think you can mourn the old days too much,” Williams says, “because everyone’s always itching to do it better.”

He even went so far as to call specific portions of the new movie’s animation, “breathtaking,” saying the “game-changing” technical skill behind it raises the industry bar.

Bossert was also supportive, calling the new movie visually “stunning,” and “faithful” to Walt Disney’s original storytelling dream. Still, he found some design elements lacking.

“I wish they had a little bit more emotion in the characters’ eyes,” he tells the outlet.

Stephan was by far the biggest critic of the three.

“‘Yeah, we just want to make money,’” he says, saying it’s clear the stockholders — not the artists — are the ones now determining which movies get made.

“I thought the performances were weak. I mean, they were so wooden … I think it was just too soon for this one.”



By Hannah Frishberg

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