The live-action Lion King is almost here–and Disney is about to make all of the ’90s babies’ dreams come true. However, before we watch real (ish) lions sing and dance, we must discuss Beyoncé’s Lion King salary. 25 years after we were dazzled by the animated flick and more than two decades after the show first debuted on Broadway–director Jon Favreau is taking us back to Pride Rock.
Though James Earl Jones is reprising his role as Mufasa, this time around he will be flanked by a new A-list cast including Donald Glover as Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Billy Eichner as Timon, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and our queen Beyoncé as the adult version of Nala. Though we’re getting much of the same masterful music that we got back in the day–Hans Zimmer who scored the 1994 flick is returning, the queen is also delivering some epic new sounds and vocals for a new generation of Lion King lovers.
If you watched the live-action version of The Jungle Book, then you know that Favreau and Disney have a knack for making digital animals look realistic as hell. But it’s certainly not a cheap thing to do. In ’94 the animated flick cost $45 million to make, but the live-action version cost almost six times that much. The budget for the 2019’s The Lion King is $250 million, but it’s certainly not the most expensive movie that Disney has ever made. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End wins that award with a $300 million budget. Tangled comes in with a close second with a $260 million budget. Thus far, Disney’s big budgets have paid off. The original Lion King brought home $968.5 million at the box office.
But let’s get back to Beyoncé and her money.
The “Spirit” singer was Favreau’s first choice to voice Nala, so Disney had to pay the big bucks. When she was cast Variety reported, “Since it’s a voice-acting role, sources say the studio and director will do whatever it takes to accommodate her schedule.” Nala is Beyoncé’s second voice role since she voiced Queen Tara in the 2009 animated film, Epic. Since her 2002 role in Austin Powers in Goldmember, through Dream Girls and Cadillac Records, Beyoncé’s movies have earned an astonishing $994.3 in the global box office. We have a sneaking suspicion that The Lion King might just double that number.
Though Bey’s exact salary hasn’t been confirmed–The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Blue’s mama can make up to $15 million for her voice role. To compare, Emma Watson made $3 million for her role as Belle in 2017’s Beauty and the Beast. Meanwhile, Cameron Diaz’s made an estimated $10 million for the Shrek franchise. Reese Witherspoon also made an estimated $10 million for Monsters vs Aliens. We’d say that since Bey lent her musical talents to the film as well as her speaking vocals, she probably made closer to $15 million than $3 million.
However many millions of dollars Bey was paid for her work– she’s clearly worth it.
Watch Simba’s story come to life when the movie debuts on July 19, 2019.