Elton John experienced a career resurgence and won an Academy Award for co-writing the music to Disney’s “The Lion King” in 1994. His winning streak continued when he helped adapt the animated classic for the Broadway stage three years later.
John’s experience with the photorealistic “Lion King” remake this summer, however, was vastly different.
The “Rocket Man” singer told British GQ that he felt the new version, which starred Donald Glover and Beyoncé, was a “huge disappointment” ― in large part because the creative team “messed the music up.”
“Music was so much a part of the original and the music in the current film didn’t have the same impact,” John said in the interview, published Monday. “The magic and joy were lost.”
“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,” he continued. “The new soundtrack fell out of the charts so quickly, despite the massive box office success.”
The same day as the movie’s release, Beyoncé unveiled a tie-in album, “The Lion King: The Gift,” which fared better with critics. Slate called it “the event the movie wishes it could be,” adding that the music “works best if you forget the remake even exists.”
Though John and lyricist Tim Rice contributed a new song, “Never Too Late,” to the 2019 film’s soundtrack and he appeared at the London premiere in July, he said his involvement in the film this time was minimal.
“I wish I’d been invited to the party more, but the creative vision for the film and its music was different this time around and I wasn’t really welcomed or treated with the same level of respect,” he said. “That makes me extremely sad.”
Still, he remains grateful that “the right spirit” for the “Lion King” continues to thrive on Broadway, where the stage version continues to play to sold out audiences after more than 9,000 performances.
John released his long-awaited memoir, “Me,” on Tuesday.