Template:Infobox film The Lion King is a 1994 American animated musical drama film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 32nd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. The story takes place in a kingdom of anthropomorphic lions in Africa, and was influenced by the biblical tales of Joseph and Moses, and the William Shakespeare plays Hamlet and Macbeth. The film was produced during a period known as the Disney Renaissance. The Lion King was directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, produced by Don Hahn, and has a screenplay credited to Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton. The voice cast includes Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Moira Kelly, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Rowan Atkinson, Robert Guillaume, Madge Sinclair, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings. It tells the story of Simba, a young lion who is to take his father Mufasa's place as king. However, after Simba's uncle Scar kills Mufasa, he must stop his uncle from conquering the Pride Lands and avenge his father.
Development of The Lion King began in 1988 during a meeting between Jeffrey Katzenberg, Roy E. Disney and Peter Schneider while promoting Oliver & Company in Europe. Thomas Disch wrote a film treatment, and Woolverton developed the first scripts while George Scribner was signed on as director, being later joined by Allers. Production began in 1991, with most of the animators inexperienced or interested in animals as most of the Disney team wanted to work on Pocahontas instead. Some time after the staff traveled to Hell's Gate National Park to research on the film's setting and animals, Scribner left production disagreeing with the decision to turn the film into a musical, and was replaced by Minkoff. When Hahn joined the project, he was dissatisfied with the script and the story was promptly rewritten. Nearly 20 minutes of animation sequences took place at Disney-MGM Studios in Florida. Computer animation was also used in several scenes, most notably in the wildebeest stampede scene.
The Lion King was released on June 15, 1994 to a positive reaction from critics, who praised the film for its music and story. With earnings of over US$951 million worldwide as of 2011, the film is the highest-grossing hand-drawn film in history, the highest-grossing 2D animated film in the United States, and the 17th-highest-grossing feature film. The Lion King garnered two Academy Awards for its achievement in music and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Its songs were written by composer Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice, with an original score by Hans Zimmer. The film was dedicated to Frank Wells, who died in a helicopter crash early in 1994.
A Broadway adaptation of the film opened in 1997, and won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Disney followed the film with two direct-to-video productions, the sequel The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998) and the prequel/parallel The Lion King 1½ (2004).
In the Pride Lands of Africa, a lion king rules over the other animals, who celebrate the birth of future king Simba, son of King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi. Mufasa's younger brother, Scar, doesn't attend the ceremony, due to his jealousy of not being King. Scar tells Mufasa tells him he used to be next in line until Simba was born. A few years later, Simba grows into a curious lion cub, Mufasa gives him a tour of the Pride Lands, teaching him the responsibilities of being a king and warning him about the shadowy place beyond the borders. Later that day, Scar tells him that the shadowy place is an elephant graveyard. Simba's curiosity is piqued, and he convinces his best friend Nala, a female lion cub, to come with him. At the graveyard, the cubs are attacked by three spotted hyenas, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, before Mufasa rescues them and willingly forgives Simba for disobeying him. The hyenas are friends of Scar, who then plot with them to take over the Pride Lands.
On Scar's orders, the hyenas stampede a large herd of wildebeest into a gorge where Simba is. Mufasa rescues Simba, but as Mufasa tries to climb up the gorge's walls, Scar throws him back into the stampede, killing him. After Simba finds Mufasa's body in the gorge, Scar tricks him into thinking that Mufasa's death is his fault and advises him to run away forever. As Simba leaves, Scar orders the hyenas to go after Simba, but the cub escapes. Scar then announces to the other animals that both Mufasa and Simba were killed and steps forward as the new king, allowing a swarm of hyenas to live in the Pride Lands.
Simba, now far from home, collapses in a desert from exhaustion, but is found by Timon and Pumbaa, a meerkat and a warthog who nurse him back to health. Timon and Pumbaa then take Simba in, and the lion lives a carefree life under the motto "hakuna matata". Years later, Simba, now an adult, rescues Timon and Pumbaa from a hungry lioness, who turns out to be Nala. The two reconcile and fall in love. Nala tries to get Simba to come back home by saying that because of Scar allowing the hyenas to live in the Pride Lands, it has become a wasteland with not enough food and water. Still feeling guilty over his father's death, Simba refuses and storms off.
Wise mandrill Rafiki tracks Simba down, telling him that Mufasa is still "alive" and taking him to a pond where he is visited by the specter of Mufasa, who tells him that he has forgotten who he is and thus must take his rightful place as the true king of Pride Rock. Simba then realizes that he can no longer run from his past and goes back home. Nala, Timon and Pumbaa follow him, and agree to help him fight.
At the Pride Lands, Simba confronts Scar on Pride Rock after he attacks his mother Sarabi. Scar taunts Simba, who still feels guilt over his father's death, but after pushing him over the edge of Pride Rock, Scar reveals that he killed Mufasa. The enraged Simba jumps back up and forces Scar to reveal the truth to the other lions. Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki and the lionesses fight off the hyenas while Scar, attempting to escape, is cornered by Simba at the top of Pride Rock. Scar begs Simba for mercy, saying he is family and places the blame on the hyenas. Simba says he does not believe Scar anymore, but spares his life and tells him to run away and never return. Scar meekly walks past him, but then attacks his nephew. After a fierce battle, Simba triumphs and throws Scar off Pride Rock. Scar survives the fall, but is attacked and killed by the hyenas, who overheard his attempt to betray them.
With Scar and the hyenas gone, Simba descends from the top of Pride Rock where he is acknowledged by the pride as the rain falls again. Sometime later, Pride Rock is restored to its former glory and Simba looks down happily at his kingdom with Nala, Timon, and Pumbaa by his side; Rafiki presents Simba and Nala's newborn cub to the inhabitants of the Pride Lands and the circle of life continues.
- Main article: List of The Lion King characters
- Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick as Simba – Mufasa and Sarabi's son, who becomes King of the Pride Lands. Jason Weaver and Joseph Williams provide Simba's young and adult singing voices respectively. Mark Henn and Ruben A. Aquino respectively served as the supervising animators for the young and adult Simba.
- James Earl Jones as Mufasa – Simba's father, the King of the Pride Lands as the film begins. Tony Fucile served as the supervising animator for Mufasa.
- Jeremy Irons as Scar – Mufasa's younger brother and Simba's uncle, who usurps the throne. Andreas Deja served as the supervising animator for Scar.
- Niketa Calame and Moira Kelly as Nala – Simba's best friend and later his queen. Sally Dworsky and Laura Williams respectively provided her young and adult singing voices. Aaron Blaise and Anthony de Rosa respectively served as the supervising animators for young and adult Nala.
- Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella as Timon and Pumbaa, respectively – Simba's meerkat and warthog friends. Michael Surrey and Tony Bancroft respectively served as the supervising animators for Timon and Pumbaa.
- Robert Guillaume as Rafiki – a wise old mandrill who serves as shaman of the Pride Lands and presents newborn cubs of the King and Queen to the animals of the Pride Lands. James Baxter served as the supervising animator for Rafiki.
- Rowan Atkinson as Zazu – a hornbill who serves as the king's majordomo (or "majordodo", as he refers to himself in the film). Ellen Woodbury served as the supervising animator for Zazu.
- Madge Sinclair as Sarabi – Mufasa's queen, Simba's mother and the leader of the lioness hunting party. Russ Edmonds served as the supervising animator for Sarabi.
- Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings as Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, respectively – the three members of the hyena trio who serve Scar.
- Zoe Leader as Sarafina – Nala's mother, who is shown briefly talking to Simba's mother, Sarabi.
- Jim Cummings as Gopher – a minor character who pops up during Simba's pouncing lesson to warn Zazu about the hyenas.
The idea for The Lion King was conceived in late 1988 during a conversation between Jeffrey Katzenberg, Roy E. Disney and Peter Schneider on a plane to Europe to promote Oliver & Company. During the conversation, the topic of a story set in Africa came up, and Katzenberg immediately jumped at the idea. Producer Thomas Schumacher, who had just completed The Rescuers Down Under, decided to attach himself to the project "because lions are cool". The idea was then developed by Walt Disney Feature Animation's vice president for creative affairs Charlie Fink. Katzenberg decided to add elements involving coming of age and death, and ideas from personal life experiences, such as some of his trials in his bumpy road in politics, saying about the film, "It is a little bit about myself." In November of that year Thomas Disch (author of The Brave Little Toaster) wrote a treatment entitled King of the Kalahari, and afterwards Linda Woolverton spent a year writing drafts of the script, which was titled King of the Beasts and then King of the Jungle. The original version of the film was very different from the final film. The plot was centered in a battle being between lions and baboons with Scar being the leader of the baboons, Rafiki being a cheetah, and Timon and Pumbaa being Simba's childhood friends. Simba would also not leave the kingdom, but become a "lazy, slovenly, horrible character" due to manipulations from Scar, so Simba could be overthrown after coming of age.
Oliver & Company director George Scribner was the initial director of the film, being later joined by Roger Allers, who was the lead story man on Beauty and the Beast in October 1991. Allers brought with him Brenda Chapman, who would become the head of story. Afterwards, several of the lead crew members, including Allers, Scribner, Hahn, Chapman, and production designer Chris Sanders, took a trip to Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya, in order to study and gain an appreciation of the environment for the film. After six months of story development work Scribner decided to leave the project, as he clashed with Allers and the producers on their decision to turn the film into a musical, as Scribner's intention was of making a documentary-like film more focused on natural aspects. Rob Minkoff replaced Scribner, and producer Don Hahn joined the production. Hahn found the script unfocused and lacking a clear theme, and after establishing the main theme as "leaving childhood and facing up to the realities of the world", asked for a final retool. Allers, Minkoff, Chapman and Hahn then rewrote the story across two weeks of meetings with directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, who had just finished Beauty and the Beast. The script also had its title changed from King of the Jungle to The Lion King, as the setting was not the jungle but the savannah.
The Lion King was the first Disney animated feature to be an original story, rather than being based on an already-existing work. The filmmakers have said that the story of The Lion King was inspired by the Joseph and Moses stories from the Bible and William Shakespeare's Hamlet. During the summer of 1992, the team was joined by screenwriter Irene Mecchi, with a second screenwriter, Jonathan Roberts, joining a few months later. Mecchi and Roberts took charge of the revision process, fixing unresolved emotional issues in the script and adding comic business for Pumbaa, Timon and the hyenas. Lyricist Tim Rice worked closely with the writing team, flying to California at least once a month, as his songs needed to work in the narrative continuity. Rice's lyrics – which were reworked up to the production's end – were even pinned to the storyboards during development. Rewrites were frequent, with animator Andreas Deja saying that completed scenes would be delivered only for the response to be that parts needed to be reanimated due to dialog changes.
The voice actors were chosen for how they fit and could add to the characters – for instance, James Earl Jones was cast because the directors found his voice "powerful" and similar to a lion's roar. Nathan Lane originally auditioned for Zazu, and Ernie Sabella for one of the hyenas. Upon meeting each other at the recording studio, the actors, who at the time both co-starred in Guys and Dolls, were asked to record together as hyenas. The directors laughed at their performance and decided to cast them as Timon and Pumbaa. For the hyenas, the original intention was to reunite Cheech & Chong, but while Cheech Marin accepted to play Banzai, Tommy Chong was unavailable. Thus his role was changed into a female hyena, Shenzi, who was voiced by Whoopi Goldberg.
Template:Quote box The development of The Lion King started concurrently with Pocahontas, which most of the animators of Walt Disney Feature Animation decided to work on instead, believing it would be the more prestigious and successful of the two. The story artists also did not have much faith in the project, with Brenda Chapman declaring she was reluctant to accept the job "because the story wasn't very good", and writer Burny Mattinson saying to co-worker Joe Ranft about the film that "I don't know who is going to want to watch that one." Most of the leading animators were either doing their first major work supervising a character, or had much interest in animating an animal. Thirteen of these supervising animators, both in California and Florida, were responsible for establishing the personalities and setting the tone for the film's main characters. The animation leads for the main characters included Mark Henn on young Simba, Ruben A. Aquino on adult Simba, Andreas Deja on Scar, Aaron Blaise on young Nala, Anthony DeRosa on adult Nala, and Tony Fucile on Mufasa. Nearly 20 minutes of the film, including the "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" sequence, were animated at the Disney-MGM Studios facility. Ultimately, more than 600 artists, animators and technicians contributed to The Lion King over the course of its production. Weeks before the film was to be released, production was affected by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which shut off the studio and required the animators to finish their work from home.
The character animators studied real-life animals for reference, as was done for the 1942 Disney film Bambi. Jim Fowler, renowned wildlife expert, visited the studios on several occasions with an assortment of lions and other savannah inhabitants to discuss behavior and help the animators give their drawings an authentic feel. The Pride Lands are modeled on the Kenyan national park visited by the crew. Varied focal lengths and lenses were employed to differ from the habitual portrayal of Africa in documentaries – which employ telephoto lenses to shoot the wildlife from a distance. The epic feel drew inspiration from concept studies by artist Hans Bacher – which, following Scribner's request for realism, tried to depict effects such as lens flare – and the works of painters Charles Marion Russell, Frederic Remington and Maxfield Parrish. Since the characters were not anthropomorphized, all the animators had to learn to draw four-legged animals, and the story and character development was done through usage of longer shots following the characters.
The use of computers helped the filmmakers present their vision in new ways. The most notable use of computer animation is in the "wildebeest stampede" sequence. Several distinct wildebeest characters were created in a 3D computer program, multiplied into hundreds, cel shaded to look like drawn animation, and given randomized paths down a mountainside to simulate the real, unpredictable movement of a herd.  Five specially trained animators and technicians spent more than two years creating the two-and-a-half minute stampede sequence. Other usages of computer animation were done through CAPS, which helped simulate camera movements such as tracking shots, and was employed on the coloring, lighting and particle effects.
The enthusiastic audience reception to an early Lion King film trailer, which consisted solely of the opening sequence with the song "Circle of Life", suggested that the film would be very successful. While both The Lion King and Pocahontas were commercial successes, The Lion King received more positive feedback and earned larger grosses than did Pocahontas, released one year later.
- Main article: The Lion King (soundtrack)
Lyricist Tim Rice, who was working with composer Alan Menken on songs for Aladdin, was invited to write the songs, and accepted on the condition of finding a composing partner. As Menken was unavailable, the producers accepted Rice's suggestion of Elton John, after Rice's invitation of ABBA fell through due to Benny Andersson being busy with the musical Kristina från Duvemåla. John expressed an interest of writing "ultra-pop songs that kids would like; then adults can go and see those movies and get just as much pleasure out of them", mentioning a possible influence of The Jungle Book, where he felt the "music was so funny and appealed to kids and adults".
John and Rice wrote five original songs for this film ("Circle of Life", "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", "Be Prepared", "Hakuna Matata" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight") with the singer's performance of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" over the end credits. The IMAX and DVD releases added another song, "The Morning Report", which was based on a song discarded during development that eventually got featured in the live musical version of The Lion King. The film's score was composed by Hans Zimmer, who was hired based on his work in two films in African settings, The Power of One and A World Apart, and supplemented the score with traditional African music and choir elements arranged by Lebo M.
The film's original motion picture soundtrack was released on July 13, 1994. It was the fourth-best-selling album of the year on the Billboard 200 and the top-selling soundtrack. It is the only soundtrack for an animated film to be Diamond certified (10x platinum). A bootleg recording exists of Hans Zimmer's complete instrumental score for the film, but it has never been given a full release by Disney.
The use of the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in a scene with Timon and Pumbaa has led to disputes between Disney and the family of South African Solomon Linda, who composed the song (originally titled "Mbube") in 1939. In July 2004, the family filed suit, seeking $1.6 million in royalties from Disney. In February 2006, Linda's heirs reached a legal settlement with Abilene Music, who held the worldwide rights and had licensed the song to Disney for an undisclosed amount of money.
Upon release, The Lion King was accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign which included tie-ins with Burger King, Mattel, Kodak, Nestlé and Payless ShoeSource, and various merchandise, accounting 186 licensed products. In 1994, Disney earned approximately $1 billion with products based on the film, with $214 million alone for Lion King toys during Christmas 1994.
The Lion King earned $422,783,777 in North America and an estimated $528,800,000 in other territories for a worldwide total of $951,583,777. It is the second-highest-grossing animated film of all time worldwide and the highest-grossing film of Walt Disney Animation Studios. It is also the highest-grossing motion picture of 1994 worldwide. After its initial run, having earned $768.6 million, it ranked as the second-highest grossing film of all time worldwide, behind Jurassic Park . It held the record for the highest-grossing animated feature film (in North America, outside North America, and worldwide) until it was surpassed by the computer animated Finding Nemo (2003), Shrek 2 (2004), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010). During its 3D re-release, The Lion King surpassed all but Toy Story 3 to rank as the second-highest-grossing animated film worldwide, and the highest-grossing hand-drawn animation. It is also the biggest animated movie of the last 50 years in terms of estimated attendance. As of 2012, it ranks as the 17th highest-grossing film worldwide.
Original theatrical runEdit
The Lion King had a limited release in North America on June 15, 1994, playing in only two theaters, El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles and Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It still earned $1,586,753 across the weekend of June 17–19, standing at the tenth place of the box office ranking. The average of $793,377 per theater stands as the largest ever achieved during a weekend. The wide release followed on June 24, 1994, in 2,550 theaters. The Lion King grossed $40.9 million – which at the time was the fourth biggest opening weekend earning ever and the highest sum for a Disney film – to top the weekend box office. By the end of its theatrical run, in spring 1995, it had earned $312,855,561, being the second-highest-grossing 1994 film in North America behind Forrest Gump. Outside North America, it earned $455.8 million during its initial run, for a worldwide total of $768.6 million.
IMAX & Large-FormatEdit
The film was re-issued on December 25, 2002 for IMAX and large-format theaters. On its first weekend, it made $2.7 million from 66 locations, a $27,664 per theater average. This run ended with $15,686,215 on May 30, 2003.
In 2011, The Lion King was converted to 3D for a two-week limited theatrical re-issue and subsequent 3D Blu-ray release. The film opened at the number one spot on Friday, September 16, 2011 with $8.9 million and finished the weekend with $30.2 million, ranking number one at the box office. This made The Lion King the first re-issue release to earn the number-one slot at the American weekend box office since the re-issue of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi in March 1997. The film also achieved the fourth-highest September opening weekend of all time. It held off very well on its second weekend, again earning first place at the box office with a 27% decline to $21.9 million. Most box-office observers had expected the film to fall about 50% in its second weekend and were also expecting Moneyball to be at first place.
After its initial box-office success, many theaters decided to continue to show the film for more than two weeks, even though its 3D Blu-ray release was scheduled for two-and-a-half weeks after its theatrical release. In North America, the 3D re-release ended its run in theaters on January 12, 2012 with a gross $94,242,001. Outside North America, it has earned $83,400,000. The successful 3D re-release of The Lion King made Disney and Pixar plan 3D theatrical re-releases of Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., and The Little Mermaid during 2012 and 2013.However, the 3D re-release of The Little Mermaid was on hold, due to the loss of their money.
20th Anniversary CelebrationEdit
The 20th Anniversary (2014) re-issue of the film will become the second re-issue release, with a re-issued 2012 short animated film Tangled Ever After when it was in the 3D re-release of Beauty and the Beast, celebrating 20 years of making of the film from 1994 to 2014.
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