Snowballs 2019: Worst Screenplay - Jeff Nathanson (The Lion King)

Elisabetta Plucini tells us why The Lion King remake had the worst screenplay of 2019/

Elisabetta Pulcini
9th December 2019
The Lion King still. Image: IMDB
Unnecessary changes, undue credit and corporate greed earn 2019's The Lion King a spot for worst screenplay of the year.

The Lion King (1994) is not just a classic Disney animation project, it's also a near perfect movie. It is funny, focused and full of heart. This is largely due to its incredible script, written by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton, which equally delivers on quotable lines and tear jerking moments.

However, in 2019’s soulless remake, they are not even credited as writers. This is because the original movie was written outside the rules of the Writers Guild of America, which protects writers, granting them residuals for their work. In fact, despite this movie copying almost to the comma the original dialogue, Jeff Nathanson is credited for the screenplay.

Some of Nathanson's previous efforts include the much derided 5th installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Image:IMDB

In addition, not only is most of this dialogue an uncredited rip-off, but the few changes it makes simply do not work. In fact, this remake exemplifies everything that is wrong with Hollywood at this time. It reuses material which was already perfect, makes it 30 minutes longer for no discernible reason and takes out some of the best lines. Among the most deplorable omissions are Rafiki’s memorable “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it”, and the musical number for ‘Be Prepared’, one of the best Disney villain songs.

Of course, some will argue that some changes are bound to be made in any remake: however, when the original movie is perfect to begin with, any change becomes unnecessary.

For these reasons, The Lion King has the worst screenplay of the year. Not because of the technical quality of the dialogue, or even because of the few changes that were made: but because of the lack of appreciation given to the original writers, paired with Disney’s complete disrespect for its own original Oscar-worthy material.

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AUTHOR: Elisabetta Pulcini
Film Editor 19/20 and Law (LLB) graduate. An Italian passionate about journalism and the law: always up for a debate. @ElisabettaPul

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