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The Lion King (1994) Poster

(1994)

Trivia

The highest grossing movie of 1994 worldwide and the second highest in the US behind Forrest Gump (1994).
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Several character names are based on Swahili words:
  • Shenzi: Barbarous/Uncouth/Uncivilized/Savage


  • Pumbaa: Ignorant/Lazy/Careless


  • Sarabi: Mirage


  • Rafiki: Comrade/Friend


  • Simba: Lion/Courageous Warrior


  • Mufasa: reportedly the name of the last king of the Bagada people, who were dispersed during the English colonization of Kenya.


  • Nala: gift


To date this movie still holds the record for being the highest grossing traditionally animated film in history.
A few weeks before the film opened, Elton John was given a special screening. Noticing that the film's love song had been left out, he successfully lobbied to have the song put back in. Later, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" won him an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The wildebeest stampede took Disney's CG department approximately three years to animate.
The lyric for the opening chant of "The Circle of Life" is: "Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba / Sithi uhm ingonyama / Nants ingonyama bagithi baba / Sithi uhhmm ingonyama / Ingonyama Siyo Nqoba / Ingonyama Ingonyama nengw enamabala". This translates as: "Here comes a lion, Father / Oh yes, it's a lion / Here comes a lion, Father / Oh yes, it's a lion / A lion We're going to conquer / A lion A lion and a leopard come to this open place".
While recording the scene where Simba gets pinned down by Nala, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was hit on his back to make it sound like he had just gotten the wind knocked out of him.
During "Be Prepared", the hyenas' marching past Scar on the elevated rock was inspired by footage of Nazis marching by Adolf Hitler on a podium.
One of the bugs that Timon pulls out of a knothole during Hakuna Matata is wearing Mickey Mouse ears.
The animators were so impressed with Jeremy Irons's performance that they worked Irons' features into Scar's face.
The line, "What do you want me to do, dress in drag and do the hula?" was improvised by Nathan Lane.
Unlike the other lions, Scar's claws are always displayed throughout the movie.
The team working on the movie was supposedly Disney's "team B", who were "kept busy" while "team A" worked on Pocahontas (1995), on which the production had much higher hopes.
Besides inspirations from William Shakespeare's Hamlet (1990), the story also has elements of the Osirian family myths of Ancient Egyptian mythology. In the Osirian myths, the king (Mufasa/Osiris) is killed by his jealous brother (Scar/Seth) and the rightful heir (Simba/Horus) is sent into exile as a boy. The murdered king visits and mentors his son in ghostly visits and when the heir comes of age, he returns to exact revenge on his father's murderer.
In early drafts, Scar was a rogue lion with no relation to Mufasa. Eventually, however, the story writers thought relating him to Mufasa would be more interesting; a threat within. This is why Scar and Mufasa differ so much; They weren't originally designed to be related.
Jim Cummings had to fill in for Jeremy Irons during the song "Be Prepared". Jeremy threw out his voice after singing, "You won't get a sniff without me!".
The song that Rafiki sings, 'Asante sana Squash banana, Wewe nugu mimi hapana' is Swahili for "Thank you very much, Squash banana, You're a baboon and I'm not." Simba asks, "What's that supposed to mean anyway?" and Rafiki says, "It means you're a baboon and I'm not." This is a popular children's song similar to "Cinderella, dressed in yella" for example.
The first Disney cartoon to be dubbed into Zulu for its African release.
In the end of the scene where Mufasa explains to Simba that the stars are old kings, we can see the constellation of Leo (the lion) in the sky.
Pumbaa the Warthog was the first character in Disney films to exhibit flatulence.
'The Lion King' is very similar to a story almost unknown to Western culture but one of the most beloved historical stories of the Niger Congo language family (western Africa). It is a story about one of their greatest kings - 'Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali'. The main character Sundiata (which, directly translated, means "the lion king") is a young prince banished from his homeland by his family after his father dies. The story tracks his overcoming of emotional and physical ailments to later return to his kingdom and battle the evil sorcerer king who has overtaken it in his absence. This is a true story (with some magical elements added) and is still told by griots (history keepers for upper-class families, aka Rafiki in the film).
When Mufasa tells Simba about the Great Kings of the Past if you look at the stars in the wide shot you can see Mickey Mouse.
There is a lost verse of "Hakuna Matata" that was storyboarded which explained Timon's situation. It was later used in The Lion King 1 1/2 (2004).
The plot-line is loosely based upon William Shakespeare's Hamlet; a story of a young prince whose uncle takes over the kingdom and marries the queen after killing the king/prince's father. After being away from home for a period of time, these events lead to the prince's plans for revenge. The prince receives some advice from his father's ghost. Also, during the scene where Zazu sings "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts", Scar Has a skull in his hand.
One of three Disney movies to win a Golden Globe for Best Picture. The other two are Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Toy Story 2 (1999) (all three were in the category "Comedy or Musical").
There have been rumors that when Simba collapses on the cliff after talking with Timon and Pumbaa about stars, the dust that flies off the cliff forms the letters SEX. In fact it forms the letters SFX, the abbreviation of the special-effects team that worked on that portion of the film. For all subsequent releases more flowers and dust were added to the scene to avoid controversy.
Originally, the movie was actually going to end with Simba being the one thrown off the cliff during the final battle against Scar, who then starts laughing maniacally as the fire gradually burns him to death. Fortunately, it then turns out that Simba actually survived the fall.
Several Disney animators went to Africa to study animal behavior and interaction in the wild. A grown lion and a cub were also brought into the animation studio as models for anatomy and musculature.
Originally, Scar was going to send adult Nala away from Pride Rock because she ignored his romantic approaches, after which she finds Simba alive and well with Timon and Pumbaa. This idea was ultimately abandoned, as sexual harassment was considered improper in a family movie. However, the stage musical adaptation includes this plot development as part of director Julie Taymor's efforts to expand the female characters' presence in the story.
This is the second movie in which James Earl Jones (Mufasa) and Madge Sinclair (Sarabi) perform together as an African King and Queen. Jones and Sinclair were also King and Queen of a fictional African nation in Coming to America (1988).
Although all of the animals are obviously anthropomorphic in the film, hyenas (as the villainous characters) were most given the short end of the stick from the reality. In fact, Spotted Hyenas are considered the equal of lions in terms of intelligence and ferocity. They have an equally intricate social structure and are less likely to kill their own kind than lions (hyena clan matriarchs allow very little intra-species aggression). Also, while portrayed as nearly full scavengers, in reality lions scavenge the kills of hyenas as much as (if not more so) than hyenas scavenge lion kills.
Originally the film was going to be about a conflict between lions and baboons, and Scar was going to be the baboon leader. Rafiki, the only baboon in the film, was instead going to be a cheetah.
The best selling home video of all time, with more than 55 million copies sold to date.
German-born Hans Zimmer called in the services of his South African friend, Lebo M., to help provide some authenticity to the film's musical soundtrack. The two had previously collaborated on John G. Avildsen's The Power of One (1992). It is Lebo M.'s call that you hear on the opening bars of "Circle of Life". He also wrote the African chant that underpins this stirring version of the song.
The original script included several characters which were cut. There was another lion cub named Mee-Too, a bat-eared fox, and a rhino with a tickbird on his back. In fact the tickbird was kept and evolved into Zazu.
A new computer program had to be written for the CG wildebeest stampede that allowed hundreds of computer generated animals to run but without colliding into each other.
'Matthew Broderick (I)' (Adult Simba) and Nathan Lane (Timon) only saw each other once during production and that was in a hall. They both did their voice work separately.
At the end of the movie when Simba looks up to the stars and hears "Remember", you can make out a lion standing from the stars, representing Mufasa's star-sign.
Adult Simba's mane was supposedly inspired by Jon Bon Jovi's hair.
Nearly twenty minutes of the film were animated at the Disney-MGM Studios. Ultimately, more than 600 artists, animators and technicians contributed to The Lion King over its lengthy production schedule. More than one million drawings were created for the film, including 1,197 hand-painted backgrounds and 119,058 individually colored frames of film.
The last Disney movie to be supervised by Jeffrey Katzenberg before he left to form DreamWorks.
The premiere for the IMAX version of the movie in New York had a strange request on the invitations: "No nannies." (In other words, "You are more than welcome to bring your children to this movie, but we sent the invitation to you and not to them for a reason.")
Nala's mother is named Sarafina. The name is never used in the film, however it does appear in the credits and on pieces of merchandise based on the film, including the trading cards issued at Burger King for a Lion King-based promotion.
Elton John and Tim Rice were a little shocked when they saw that the producers originally intended to have their (eventual) Oscar-winning love ballad "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" as a duet between Timon and Pumbaa.
Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane would later appear together in The Producers (2005). Coincidentally, both films now exist as Broadway musicals.
The scenes of the hyenas chasing Simba out of the Pridelands and into the desert originally went screen right to screen left. The filmmakers flipped all the shots so that the chase now went screen left to screen right, so as to match the shot of Simba running back home to face Scar (he runs from screen right to screen left).
The original opening to the film was supposed to have been a quiet dialogue-heavy sequence. When composer Hans Zimmer prepared his interpretation of Circle of Life, he made an extended version so he would have some flexibility as to what to cut for the film. The animators were so impressed with the work that they decided to change the beginning into the currently seen sequence so they could use the entire work that Zimmer prepared.
Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella were originally cast as the hyenas Banzai and Shenzi (played by Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin in the film). The crew loved their performance and thought the duo would be even better as Timon and Pumbaa.
In the special edition release, crew had to hire a new actor to voice Young Simba singing for the "Morning Report" since the original singing voice is now an adult. They hired Evan Saucedo, making him the 4th actor to voice young Simba.
This animated movie was Gregory Peck's favorite animated film, he also ranked it in his top five all time favorite movies.
For its Platinum Edition DVD release, a new song was recorded and animated. "The Morning Report" was written for the Broadway musical by Elton John and Tim Rice. They wrote two other songs for the play, "Chow Down" and "The Madness of King Scar".
The Lion King opened on Broadway in 1997. The musical garnered 6 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and is produced by Disney Theatrical.
When writer Irene Mecchi came on board, she was told that the story pitch was "Bambi (1942) in Africa meets Hamlet (1990)", or "Bamlet", as she termed it.
The music of the little song Timon performs for the hyenas ("LUAU!") is a fast-paced parody of the Aloha Chant, which can be heard in Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room in Disneyland.
Tim Curry and Malcolm McDowell were both considered for the role of Scar.
Originally titled "King of the Jungle", it was supposed to be about African lions living in the jungle until the production team realized that lions don't live in the jungle. Interestingly enough, the phrase "King of the Jungle" is still used on certain T-shirts sold at the Disney Store.
The original concept for the production design was to stylize the backgrounds to invoke the colorful and graphic nature of African fabric patterns and tribal art. However, this gave the film an overly stylized quality so the production team then opted for the epic, mystical feel that we see in the film today.
John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Patrick Stewart were all considered for the role of Zazu. The role was finally given to Rowan Atkinson after the animators watched some episodes of Mr. Bean (1990). They even modeled Zazu's appearance after Atkinson. According to producer Don Hahn, every English comedian (as well as Patrick Stewart and Simon Callow, both of whom are classically trained Shakespearean actors) who performed from 1960-1991 and were still active in acting were either seriously considered, turned down or auditioned for the role.
Mufasa was to sing a song titled To Be King, but it didn't suit James Earl Jones' singing voice.
The groundhog that pops up after Simba's pouncing lesson (the song "Morning Report" in the special edition) was originally going to be a naked mole rat, but the animators couldn't get him to look right. One of the directors said, "We would've lost our G rating!"
Script writers envisioned Sean Connery as the voice of Mufasa.
When he signed onto the film, 'Matthew Broderick (I)' (Adult Simba) thought this was an American version of the anime/manga "Kimba the White Lion" (1965) which followed a similar plot line.
Multiple characters have ended up scrapped for the final version of the first film - a little brother for Nala, Sarabi's sister, a second meerkat, Nala's father, a rock python who would have acted as Scar's lackey and would have been voiced by Tim Curry and a bat-eared fox named Bhati for example. Nala's brother, Mheetu, in particular was to have an important role. He was created as a character for Nala to protect from the hyenas and Scar. Mheetu was the one who was lured into the gorge. Simba tried to save him but failed so Mufasa saved them, and the rest plays out like the final film.
Liam Neeson was considered for the role of Mufasa.
An alternate version of Can You Feel the Love Tonight, a comic version to be sung by Timon and Pumbaa was storyboarded and even recorded but never used.
[June 2008] Ranked #4 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Animation".
Timon and Pumbaa were originally supposed to be friends of Simba from the very start.
One of the original villain groups being considered was a pack of jackals.
The main locations for the film, including Pride Rock and the Gorge, are modeled after Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya.
Originally the Hula dance with Timon was going to be a Saturday Night Fever (1977) like disco dance.
An extra song for Timon & Pumbaa, Warthog Rhapsody, was written by Elton John and Tim Rice for the film, and was recorded by Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, and Jason Weaver. The sequence that was planned for it was worked out on the storyboard, but was never animated and so the song was not used; the song was included on "Rhythm of the Pride Lands," a companion CD to the movie's soundtrack.
Originally, the hyenas Banzai and Shenzi were supposed to be voiced by Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin. But the directors couldn't get hold of Chong, so they cast Whoopi Goldberg as Shenzi instead.
The Italian pop version of the song "The Circle of Life", sung in Italian by Ivana Spagna, was a major hit in Italy in 1994/95, alongside the original version by Elton John.
Despite repeated allegations of plagiarism of the Tezuka Productions' TV series Kimba the White Lion (1965), first shown in the 1960s, Disney maintain that all the similarities are coincidental.
The Broadway production of "The Lion King" opened at the New Amsterdam Theater on October 15, 1997, has run for 6325 performances and is the fifth longest-running show on Broadway (as of February 2013). "The Lion King" won the 1998 Tony Award (New York City) for the Best Musical and received nominations for Best Score and Best Book.
Before Rowan Atkinson was cast as Zazu, many other British comedy actors were considered for the role, these include Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie, David Jason, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Spike Milligan, Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett and Vic Reeves.
Hans Zimmer had promised producer Don Hahn and directors Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers that he would get Lebo M. on the film. Zimmer then realized he had no idea where to find his his The Power of One (1992) collaborator but it all worked out as early one morning Lebo, seemingly out of the blue, showed up at Zimmer's house.
The first Disney animation movie to be dubbed into Portuguese in Portugal rather than Brazil.
Production took place at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Glendale, California, and Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida. Thirteen supervising animators, both in California and Florida, were responsible for establishing the personalities and setting the tone for the film's main characters.
Premiered at the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Timothy Dalton was offered the role of Mufasa, but he turned it down.
In the dubbed Dutch version of the film, Timon and Pumbaa's voices are spoken in Flemish, a dialect of Dutch spoken in Belgium. The accent given to Rafiki and Simba's mother comes from Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America. The rest of the characters speak with standard Dutch dialects found in the Netherlands.
Voted number 6 in channel 4's (UK) "Greatest Family Films"
George Scribner was the film's original director.
Richard Curtis and Ben Elton were approached to write the film, but both turned it down as they were busy with projects of their own.
Virginia McKenna, Helen Mirren and Vanessa Redgrave' were considered for the voice of Sarabi.
A different version of "Hakuna Matata" was recorded by Jimmy Cliff along with Lebo M.. It was a reggae/pop version of the song and was originally intended to appear on the original motion picture soundtrack along with Elton John's versions of "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?", "The Circle of Life" and "I Just Can't Wait To Be King". Ultimately the decision was made to not include it. It was, however, put on the "sequel" soundtrack "Rhythm of the Pride Lands" (released on February 28, 1995.
Voted number 1 in Cuatro's (Spain) "Tu película Disney"
James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Ray Liotta were considered for the role of Scar.
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Joe Pesci was offered to do the voice of Banzai or Timon, but turned both of the roles down due to schedule conflicts.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

If you look closely at Zazu as Simba comes down to greet his subjects after the defeat of Scar, you can see his beak move, but no sound comes out. Originally he says "Your Majesty".
Originally Mufasa was to never appear after his death, but producers felt Simba needed a reason to go back to pride rock so the spirit scene was made as a "to be or not to be" moment.
The shot of Simba's paws walking up Pride Rock at the end of the film was animated by producer Don Hahn

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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