The Lion King (1994) Poster



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. Multiple characters have ended up scrapped for the final version of the first film - a little brother for Nala, a second meerkat, Nala's father (who would have been leader of another pride), Joka, a rock python who would have acted as a fourth lackey for Scar and a bat-eared fox named Bhati for example. Nala's brother, Mheetu, in particular was to have an important role, serving as a character for Nala to protect from the hyenas and Scar. Mheetu would also have been lured into the gorge, causing Simba to try and save him. However, he fails, causing Mufasa to rescue them, leading to his death.
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Unlike the other lions, Scar's claws are always displayed throughout the movie.
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 Jeffrey Katzenberg to have the song put back in. Later, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" won him an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
(at around 1h 12 mins) The line, "What do you want me to do, dress in drag and do the hula?" was improvised by Nathan Lane.
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.
The wildebeest stampede took Disney's CG department approximately three years to animate. 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.
The animators were so impressed with Jeremy Irons's performance that they worked Irons' features into Scar's face.
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. As it turned out, The Lion King became a huge critical and commercial success, whereas Pocahontas met with mixed reviews and a much lower box office.
Several character names are based on Swahili words:

Simba - lion Nala - gift Sarabi - mirage Rafiki - friend Pumbaa - simpleton/weak-minded Shenzi - barbarous/uncouth/uncivilized/savage Banzai - skulk/lurk

Despite the fact that Zawadi is the Swahili word for gift, Nala's name does indeed also mean gift.
HIDDEN MICKEY: (at around 46 mins) One of the bugs that Timon pulls out of a knothole during Hakuna Matata is wearing Mickey Mouse ears. 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.
(at around 18 mins) 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.
(at around 29 mins) Jim Cummings (voice of Ed the Hyena in this film) had to fill in for Jeremy Irons for the finale of "Be Prepared." Irons threw out his voice after performing the line, "you won't get a sniff without me!" The rest of his recording didn't sound powerful enough.
The first Disney cartoon to be dubbed into Zulu for its African release.
The lyric for the opening chant of "The Circle of Life" are: "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."
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.
The highest grossing movie of 1994 worldwide and the second highest in the U.S. behind Forrest Gump (1994).
(at around 29 mins) 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.
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.
(at around 25 mins) 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.
Originally, Scar was going to send Nala as a fully grown lion 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.
Matthew Broderick (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.
The best selling home video of all time, with more than 55 million copies sold to date.
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).
One of three Disney movies to win a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture. The other two are Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Toy Story 2 (1999) (all three won in the category of "Musical or Comedy"). Today, however, this is no longer possible due to rule changes at the Golden Globes and the creation of the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature category.
The last Disney movie to be supervised by Jeffrey Katzenberg before he left to form DreamWorks.
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).
Frank Welker provided all the lion roars. Not a single recording of an actual lion roaring was used because the producers wanted specific sounding roars for each lion.
'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).
(at around 1h 3 mins) The song that Rafiki sings, 'Asante sana, squash banana, wewe nugu mimi hapana' is often said to be Swahili for "Thank you very much, squash banana, you're a baboon and I'm not." However, the Swahili word for baboon, nyani, is not part of the song. Some have suggested it in fact means "You're a dog, and I'm not," but the word for dog, mbwa, is not present either.
Pumbaa the Warthog was the first character in Disney films to exhibit flatulence.
This movie held the record for being the highest grossing animated film of all-time, until it was surpassed by Toy Story 3 (2010) in 2010, and then was surpassed by Frozen (2013) in 2013, both Disney movies. However, the film remains the highest grossing 2D animated movie of all-time.
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 mandrill in the film, was instead going to be a cheetah.
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 hyenas are 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.
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 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. 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 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 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.
Adult Simba's mane was supposedly inspired by Jon Bon Jovi's hair.
(at around 52 mins) 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.
Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella were originally cast as the hyenas Banzai and Shenzi (played by Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin in the final film). The crew loved their performance and thought the duo would be even better as Timon and Pumbaa.
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.
Hans Zimmer originally hesitated the idea of composing music for a children's animated film, but eventually joined production after warming up the story, which reminded him of his respective relationships with his father and daughter. His attitude towards animated films eventually changed throughout the course of his involvement in the film's production. He later called his experience on working on The Lion King (1994) as one of the greatest in his professional career.
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.
Mufasa was to sing a song titled "To Be King", but it didn't suit James Earl Jones' singing voice.
The Lion King is the only Disney animated movie that shows the villain (Scar) committing murder. All other Disney animated movies have attempted murders/murders done off-screen.
The plot-line is loosely based upon William Shakespeare's Hamlet, as well as the biblical stories of Moses and Joseph.
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.
The Lion King opened on Broadway in 1997. The musical garnered 6 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and is produced by Disney Theatrical.
(at around 1h 12 mins) 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.
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.
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.
Originally the Hula dance with Timon was going to be a Saturday Night Fever (1977)-like disco dance.
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.")
Liam Neeson and Timothy Dalton were both considered for the role of Mufasa, but later turned it down, though Neeson would later voice a lion in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) and its sequels.
(at around 1h 22 mins) 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.
This movie was Gregory Peck's favorite animated film; he also ranked it in his top five all time favorite movies.
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. 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. This was changed, but Timon and Pumbaa still got to sing the final verse of the song.
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.
Rafiki is the Only Character to not have an American or British Accent, and has an Accent native to the Film's Setting in Africa (though he is voiced by an American Actor, being Robert Guillaume) and time to time speaks the African Language Swahii.
Timon and Pumbaa were originally supposed to be friends of Simba from the very start.
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".
Tim Curry and Malcolm McDowell were both considered for the role of Scar.
When he signed onto the film, Matthew Broderick (Adult Simba) thought this was an American version of the anime/manga Kimba the White Lion (1965), which followed a similar plot line.
Directors Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers cited the documentary National Geographic Specials: Eternal Enemies: Lions and Hyenas (1992) as being a major inspiration for the overall feel of the film saying they attempted to reach even "one-tenth the power of the documentary".
The main locations for the film, including Pride Rock and the Gorge, are modeled after Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya.
(at around 39 mins) 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).
[June 2008] Ranked #4 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Animation".
In the special edition release, crew had to hire a new actor to voice Young Simba singing for the "The Morning Report" since the original singing voice is now an adult. They hired Evan Saucedo, making him the fourth actor to voice young Simba.
Scriptwriters envisioned Sean Connery as the voice of Mufasa.
(at around 11 mins) 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 in the DVD commentary, "We would've lost our G rating!"
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, and wanted to focus on the Real Life Setting for a Lion, though a Jungle where Simba meets Timon and Pumbaa does appear later on. Interestingly enough, the phrase "King of the Jungle" is still used on certain T-shirts sold at the Disney Store.
The Legacy Collection soundtrack was released on June 24, 2014 to coincide with the film's 20th anniversary. The two-disc album includes approximately thirty minutes of previously unreleased music and liner notes from composer Hans Zimmer and producer Don Hahn.
The original intention for 2 of the hyenas 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, voiced by Whoopi Goldberg. Chong alone would later have a role in a Disney Animated Feature Film 22 years later, being Zootopia (2016).
The idea of an English majordomo, which had been previously tried twice for Sebastian in The Little Mermaid (1989) and Iago in Aladdin (1992), would finally come to realization in the creation of Zazu in The Lion King (1994).
(at around 6 mins) Near the start of the film Mufasa asks Scar if he is going to challenge him. In real life lions actually fight one another for right to be leader of the pride with the loser backing down.
One of the original villain groups being considered was a pack of jackals.
Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane would later appear together in The Producers (2005). Coincidentally, both films now exist as Broadway musicals.
For The Lion King (1994)'s first film trailer, Disney opted to feature a single scene, the entire opening sequence with the song "Circle of Life". Buena Vista Pictures Distribution president Dick Cook said the decision was made for such an approach because "we were all so taken by the beauty and majesty of this piece that we felt like it was probably one of the best four minutes of film that we've seen", and Don Hahn added that "Circle of Life" worked as a trailer as it "came off so strong, and so good, and ended with such a bang". The trailer was released in November 1993, accompanying The Three Musketeers (1993) in theaters, as only a third of The Lion King had been completed. Audience reaction was overwhelmingly enthusiastic, causing Hahn to have some initial concerns as he became afraid of not living up to the expectations raised by the preview. Disney would, then, also follow a similar pattern for Pocahontas (1995), as they've selected the entire song of "Colors of the Wind" to be the highlight of the film's first theatrical trailer.
Linda Woolverton was the original screenwriter of The Lion King (1994). She was virtually exhausted from production, as she wrote scripts and attended story meetings for both The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast (1991) at the same time. She, moreover, was more invested in her work on Beauty and the Beast than on The Lion King. Early on in the production of The Lion King, producer Don 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. Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff, Brenda 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 (1991). 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. 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. Months before release, the Writers Guild of America officially awarded the screenplay credits to Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, and Linda Woolverton. The Writers Guild ruled that the film's final script utilizes and combines all of the great contributions made by the three writers.
In the Dutch-dubbed version of the film, Timon and Pumbaa's voices are spoken in Flemish, a variation of Dutch spoken in Belgium (Dutch and Flemish have differences in pronunciation comparable to British and American English). The accent given to Rafiki and Simba's mother comes from Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America. Zazu speaks a very elitist-sounding Dutch, whereas the hyenas have big city accents. The rest of the characters speak mostly standard Dutch.
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.
(at around 8 mins) Where you first see Simba as a young cub going to wake up Mufasa, Mufasa says to Sarabi, "Before sunrise he's your son" this is because Mufasa is the ruler of everything the light touches.
At the time of its production, many at Disney had high hopes for Pocahontas (1995) and deemed the concept of The Lion King (1994) as experimental. Then-studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg regarded Pocahontas as a more prestigious project than The Lion King, and even believed that it had a chance of earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, following in the steps of Beauty and the Beast (1991). As production on the two films went on, The Lion King finally began to take shape and opinions also began to change. The Lion King received overwhelmingly positive acclaim from film critics and audiences alike. The film went on to not only become one of the highest-grossing films in cinema history, but also as one of the best selling home video titles of all time. Pocahontas (1995), on the other hand, was less successful commercially than was hoped and received a mixed-to-negative response from film critics. Because the film dealt with more adult themes and tones and featured both a disjointed script and less regard for historical accuracy, it wasn't a mammoth success as the earlier Disney hits had.
Directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff watched the films of Leni Riefenstahl and David Lean for inspiration on the film's breathtakingly majestic visuals and using it to support the story of the film, rather than to be overwhelmed by it.
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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.
(at around 12 mins) In the first conversation between Scar and Simba, Simba comments to Scar, "You're so weird..." to which Scar retorts a cryptic, "You have no idea...", a line spoken by Jeremy Irons in similar fashion in Reversal of Fortune (1990).
Jeremy Irons had at first refused the role due to not being comfortable going from the dramatic performance as Claus von Bülow in Reversal of Fortune (1990) to a comedic role. Once he came in, however, Irons' performance even inspired the writers to incorporate more of his acting as von Bülow - even adding one of that character's lines, "You have no idea" - and animator Andreas Deja to watch both Reversal of Fortune (1990) and Damage (1992) to pick up Irons' facial traits and tics.
The idea for The Lion King was conceived in late 1988 during a conversation between Jeffrey Katzenberg, Roy Edward Disney and Peter Schneider on a plane to Europe to promote Oliver & Company (1988). During the conversation, the topic of a story set in Africa came up, and Katzenberg immediately jumped at the idea. The idea was then developed by Walt Disney Feature Animation's vice president for creative affairs Charles 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 M. 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. By 1990, producer Thomas Schumacher, who had just completed The Rescuers Down Under (1990), decided to attach himself to the project "because lions are cool". Schumacher likened the script for King of the Jungle to "an animated National Geographic special".
The first Disney animation movie to be dubbed into Portuguese in Portugal rather than Brazil.
This is Walt Disney Pictures' 32nd full-length animated motion picture
Jeremy Irons and Whoopi Goldberg both won acting Oscars in the same year for their roles in Reversal of Fortune (1990) and Ghost (1990) respectively.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
The character animators studied real-life animals for reference, as was done for the 1942 Disney film Bambi (1942). 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 animators also studied various animal movements in natural settings at the Miami MetroZoo under guidance from wildlife expert Ron Magill. 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 George Scribner's request for realism, tried to depict effects such as lens flare - and the works of painters Charles Marion Russell, Frederic Remington and Mayfield 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.
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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.
Premiered at the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
The Broadway production of "The Lion King" opened at the New Amsterdam Theater on October 15, 1997, has run for 6681 performances, and is the fourth-longest running show on Broadway (as of November 30, 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.
Linda Woolverton, the film's original screenwriter, had to be withdrawn from production on The Lion King (1994), as she was more invested in her work on Beauty and the Beast (1991). Some of her ideas and characterizations still remain in the final cut of the film.
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James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Ray Liotta were considered for the role of Scar.
Production was affected by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which shut off the studio and required the animators to finish their work from home.
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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.
Oliver & Company (1988) director George Scribner was the initial director of the film, being later joined by producer Don Hahn and Roger Allers, who was the lead story man on Beauty and the Beast (1991), 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 Don Hahn joined the production as producer as Schumacher became only an executive producer due to Disney promoting him to Vice President of Development for Feature Animation.
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One of Elton John's demands was that one of the film's songs had to be a love ballad that had potential to crossover into a radio hit. This became "Can You Feel the Love Tonight."
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Voted number 6 in channel 4's (UK) "Greatest Family Films"
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.
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Shenzi the hyena's full name is Shenzi Marie Fredatora Veldeta Jauqelena Hyena (at least according to Timon in The Lion King 1 1/2 (2004))
This is the first Disney Animated Feature Film to not be released in November/Around Thanksgiving since The Great Mouse Detective (1986) 8 years prior.
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Virginia McKenna, Helen Mirren and Vanessa Redgrave were considered for the voice of Sarabi.
Shenzi's position as leader of the hyenas is very like that of real life- real spotted hyenas are matriarchal, and females dominate the males. For male hyenas to have any real power within a clan, they have usually performed longtime services for high-ranking females.
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George Scribner was the film's original director.
Jeremy Irons came prepared with cigarettes for his voice recordings. He was smoking including during Be Prepared. Rob Minkoff stated that the people involved in the making of the movie had to edit out all of the smoking. While recording the line "my teeth and ambitions are bared/Be Prepared" is kind of entertaining.
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When the hyenas put Zazu into the little geyser and launch him into orbit. Simba says to them "Why don't you pick on somebody your own size?", then the hyenas say to him "Like you?". That same line was used in the movie _Oliver and Company (1988)_, which also stars 'Cheech Martin'.
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The German dubbing voices of little Simba (singing voice) and Nala would later go on to dub Bilbo Baggins and Eowyn in the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings respectively. They're called Manuel Straube and Alexandra Wilcke.
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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.
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The character Scar is pictured on one of ten USA nondenominated commemorative postage stamps celebrating "Disney Villains", issued as a pane of 20 stamps on 15 July 2017. The set was issued in a single sheet of 20 stamps. The price of each stamp on day of issue was 49¢. The other villains depicted in this issue are: The Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Honest John (Pinocchio (1940)), Lady Tremaine (Cinderella (1950)), The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland (1951)), Captain Hook (Peter Pan (1953)), Maleficient (Sleeping Beauty (1959)), Cruella De Ville (101 Dalmatians (1961)), Ursula (The Little Mermaid (1989)), and Gaston (Beauty and the Beast (1991)).
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Two major actors of the hit Disney-ABC TV show Home Improvement (1991) appeared in two different films for Walt Disney Pictures, which were both released in 1994: Jonathan Taylor Thomas in The Lion King (1994) and Tim Allen in The Santa Clause (1994).
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Nathan Lane plays the character Timon in this movie. Timon is the vegetable known as cucumber which is in Malay in Malaysia.
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Jeremy Irons (Scar) and Ernie Sabella (Pumbaa) both share a birthday (September 19), 1 year apart.
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Voted number 1 in Cuatro's (Spain) "Tu película Disney"
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When Scar says Simba has admitted 'murdering Mufusa' Simba denies this by claiming 'No it was an accident'. Dorothy says the same line when the Witch of the West accuses her of killing her sister the Witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
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The Lion King (1994) marks the 2nd time that Cheech Marin had appeared in a Disney animated film, his first being Oliver & Company (1988).
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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Filmmaker James Mangold, at that time had worked for Disney on Oliver and Company (1988), was actually offered a small cameo role as a warthog during a scene with Pumba. This was due to Mangold having a very deep baritone voice and an aquatintence with the film's director.
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In the German dub, Uwe Paulsen was originally cast as Zazu. Shortly before the premiere, Zazu's lines were re-dubbed by Eberhard Prüter.
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Last Film for Madge Sinclair before her death 1 year later.
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'Robert Guillaum''s only Theatrically Released Animated Film. The only other animated films of his had been Straight-to-Video/DVD ones.
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James Earl Jones (King Mufasa) and Madge Sinclair (Queen Sarabi) also played an African King and Queen in Coming to America (1988).
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Disney derived the inspiration for it from the long running Japanese cartoon series and films, Jungle Emperor Leo.
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The name Simba is always associated with Africa or Kenya. Brad Pitt once visited Simba River Camp in Kenya, a safari lodge.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Many fans have described Mufasa's death as one of the saddest and most traumatizing moments of any film in the Disney canon. In fact, the only moment that is considered the same is the death of Bambi (1942)'s mother. According to the makers, the scene was originally even more heart-breaking and intense, but when a test audience consisting of children saw a preview, they started to sob and cry uncontrollably, so it was decided to tone the scene down a bit.
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.
(At around 1h 21 mins) 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".
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 (I)', 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. The song also seems to have some similarities to the song "That's All I Need" from the Direct-To-Video movie, The Lion King 1 1/2 (2004).
The shot of Simba's paws walking up Pride Rock at the end of the film was animated by producer Don Hahn
The song "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" has a sad irony to it. Simba sings it the day before Mufasa dies, thus making Simba the official king of the Pride Lands.
(at around 45 mins) In the song "Hakuna Matata", when Pumbaa is telling his story and how he thought of changing his name, the phrase Timon sings is a line from Juliet's balcony monologue from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The exact quote is: "What's in a name? That we should call a rose by any other name and it still smell so sweet".
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During the early stages of production, the film's climax had a different ending. After their battle on top of Pride Rock, Scar is left hanging on the edge of a rock and asks Simba for mercy, saying that Simba is not like him, that he is not a murderer, and asks for his forgiveness. Simba pulls him up, but he's thrown over by Scar to the raging fire below and lands safely into a tree. Scar, believing Simba to be dead, starts laughing over his victory before he is burned alive by the fire. The sequence was story boarded, but it was not used, being considered too dark for a Disney film.
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