Unless you've been living under a rock (Pride or otherwise), you've probably heard that Jon Favreau's future Best Buy demo video The Lion King is making some serious money at the box office. The much-hyped Disney remake just broke an important record ... maybe.
This past weekend, the movie passed the $1.3 billion mark at the international box office, which would make it the most successful animated movie of all time, surpassing Frozen. Except Disney has hesitated to label it an animated movie, despite the fact that the entire thing is comprised of (admittedly lifelike) animation. Favreau admitted that the movie features "no real animals" and used "no real cameras" but also somehow thinks that calling it an animated film would be "misleading" -- somehow resisting the urge to add "Hey, remember when I was on Friends? I was that rich guy who dated Monica" just to change the subject.
Yes, somehow, even weeks after the release, we're still debating whether or not this movie is "live-action," even though it totally isn't. It merely has the appearance of real life, which is a superficial distinction. Insisting that it's live-action is a little like arguing that Leaving Las Vegas is a National Treasure movie. After all, that lonely alcoholic drinking himself to death certainly looks exactly like insufferable history buff Benjamin Gates.
If you're still having trouble discerning whether this movie is a cartoon or not, let's turn to that thing that hilariously made it look like Keanu Reeves was in Forrest Gump and also might plunge society into total chaos: deepfakes. Recently, visual effects artist Jonty Pressinger used deepfake tech to monkey with the new Lion King footage, substituting the faces of the characters with those of their original cartoon counterparts. And the result is ... less creepy, actually.
Even with only the faces altered, anyone not living in the Roger Rabbit-verse would reject any attempts to label this as "live-action." So suck it up, Disney, you just broke the record for most successful animated movie. Perhaps the Frozen franchise will reclaim the title when its sequel arrives this fall, or 25 years from now, when its holographic remake starring synthetic actors hits your local virtua-plex.
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