Despite the outcry from many fans, the “live-action” remake of Disney’s The Lion King saw a tremendous box office gross to the tune of $1.6 billion worldwide. There’s at least one prominent celebrity that wasn’t impressed, though. Sir Elton John, “Rocketman” himself and composer of the 90s animated version, has stated in an interview with GQ U.K. that the remake’s score was a “huge disappointment” to him.
“The new version of The Lion King was a huge disappointment to me, because I believe they messed the music up,” said John. “Music was so much a part of the original and the music in the current film didn’t have the same impact. The magic and joy were lost.” Is he talking about The Lion King or every recent Disney remake?
Continuing further, John stated, “The soundtrack hasn’t had nearly the same impact in the charts that it had 25 years ago, when it was the bestselling album of the year. The new soundtrack fell out of the charts so quickly, despite the massive box-office success.” He then expressed his desire to have been more involved in the creative direction of the remake, feeling he wasn’t welcomed or treated with the same level of respect he received decades prior.
On the one hand, I do agree with Elton John. Recent Hollywood productions have been relying too much on licensed music, which makes everything feel like it lacks personality. On the other hand, music, in general, doesn’t perform as well in 2019 as it used to in 1994. The immediate access everyone has to an entire artist’s discography has almost removed the special joy one would receive from buying physical media.
There’s a lot of different ways to look at this, but I don’t think The Lion King’s lack of magic comes down solely to music. Disney has been churning out these remakes for half a decade, now, and the films haven’t really gotten better. These movies are the byproduct of focus testing and market research, creating the “perfect” film for mass-market appeal. The side effect is that the end result is soulless and audiences quickly forget it after leaving the theater.
I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but mostly an observation I’ve noticed. I do wish we could get back to films being massive events, but maybe the world doesn’t desire that anymore. At any rate, it seems Elton John certainly wishes for better.