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 Disney animated feature film, and the fifth animated film produced in 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 script credited to Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton. The original songs were written by composer Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice, with a score by Hans Zimmer. The film has an ensemble cast that includes Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Moira Kelly, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Rowan Atkinson, Robert Guillaume, Madge Sinclair (in her latest film role), Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings. The story takes place in a kingdom of lions in Africa and was influenced by the biblical stories of Joseph and Moses, and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Lion King tells the story of Simba (Swahili for lion), a young lion who will succeed his father, Mufasa, as King of the Pride Lands; however, after Simba’s uncle Scar murders Mufasa, Simba is manipulated into believing he was responsible and fleeing into exile. After growing up in the company of the carefree outcasts Timon and Pumbaa, Simba gains valuable perspective from his childhood friend, Nala, and his shaman, Rafiki, before returning to challenge Scar to end tyranny and take his place in the Circle of Life as the rightful king.
The 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 M. Disch wrote a film adaptation, and Woolverton developed the first scripts, while George Scribner was signed as director, and later joined Allers. Production began in 1991 alongside Pocahontas, which wound up many of Disney’s best animators. Shortly after staff traveled to Hell’s Gate National Park in Kenya to investigate the film’s setting and animals, Scribner left production, disagreeing with the decision to make the film a musical, and being replaced by Minkoff. When Hahn joined the project, he was dissatisfied with the script, and the story was rewritten immediately. Nearly 20 minutes of animated sequences were produced in the Disney-MGM Studios theme park in Florida. Computer animation was also used in several scenes, especially in the wildebeest stampede sequence.
The Lion King was released on June 15, 1994 to a positive response from critics, who praised the film for its music, history, themes and animation. With a first worldwide gross of $ 766 million, it ended its theatrical run as the most lucrative release in 1994, the most lucrative animated film and the second most lucrative film of all time. It is also the most lucrative traditional animated film of all time, as well as the best-selling film on home video, having sold over 30 million VHS tapes. Upon release, the film drew some controversy in Japan for the similarities with Osamu Tezuka’s anime series Kimba the White Lion from the 1960s. Lion King received two Oscars for his performance in music and the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy. The film has led to many derivative works, such as a Broadway adaptation; two live-to-video sequels – the sequel, The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998), and prequel / parallel, The Lion King 1½ (2004); two TV series, Timon and Pumbaa and The Lion Guard; a 3D re-release in 2011; and a photorealistic remake in 2019, which also became the most lucrative animated film at the time of release.
In 2016, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically or aesthetically important”. As of December 2019, it is the only Disney movie that has been called in Zulu, the only African language other than Arabic that has been used for a long-running Disney dub.
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