Beyonce was supposed to ‘add more to the story’ of Black Is King before the coronavirus pandemic shut down filming.
The 38-year-old singer released her powerful visual album on Disney+ last month, and two of the directors for the production – Kwasi Fordjour and Blitz Bazawule – have now said they were forced to revise the story because of the global health crisis.
Speaking in a joint interview for The Fader, Kwasi revealed: ‘Definitely. We were planning to add more to the story. We had to table that idea and really look at everything we had and go, “Okay, this is what we’ve got, here is the messaging, here is the story. How can we enhance this?” We had the key ingredients and all of those things helped tell the story the way we told it.’
To help piece together the story without shooting any more scenes, Kwasi and Blitz had to grab old videos and unused footage, which presented a unique challenge for the creative team.
But Blitz believes the setback happened for a reason, as it made for the perfect timing of the piece amid the Black Lives Matter protests.
‘COVID was such a shift in our entire worldview and I think the universe is so wise. The timing of this piece could not have been better,’ he said.
‘The fact that we were planning to add more and the universe said nope. We were shooting so much content that we never fully watched or listened to, so we had to go back and create from what we already had.’
Black Is King is based on The Lion King: The Gift, the soundtrack LP Beyonce produced for the 2019 remake of The Lion King, in which she voiced Nala.
The Crazy in Love hitmaker executive produced, wrote and co-directed the release which puts ‘the voyages of Black families, throughout time’ in the spotlight and follows ‘a young king’s transcendent journey through betrayal, love and self-identity’.
The film premiered on Disney+ on July 31, 2020 and boasted a star-studded cast including Lupita Nyong’o and Naomi Campbell.
The film also received praise for showcasing numerous Black designers, including Duckie Confetti, D.Bleu.Dazzled, Loza Maléombho, Déviant La Vie and more.
‘I worked with a diverse group of very gifted directors and actors and creatives from all over the world to reimagine the story of The Lion King,’ she told Good Morning America prior to it’s release.
‘My hope for this film is that it shifts the global perception of the word “Black,” which has always meant inspiration and love and strength and beauty to me. Black Is King means Black is regal and rich, in history, in purpose and in lineage.’
However, despite the big names, the film had a disappointing debut weekend on Disney+, according to Yahoo! Finance.
After looking over the data, Yahoo determined the movie didn’t ‘even crack the top five’ of films on the streaming platform over its premiere weekend, attracting only 4% of users.
The website reported users who streamed the film only spent ‘about 2.2% of their time watching that film.’