The Lion King at 25: Did You Know?
by John Bishop · June 17, 2019
Jon Favreau’s reboot of The Lion King roars into theaters next month, but — maybe not coincidentally — the original animated classic turns 25 this year.
And, as we prepare to compare and contrast the two films, plenty of bloggers are giving us fodder for thought.
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Eonline.com’s Billy Nilles is just the latest to whet our appetite for Lion King trivia:
It’s almost time to return to Pride Rock. We’re just a little over a month away from Disney’s photo-realistic “live-action” adaptation of The Lion King roars its way into theaters, revealing with stars like Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner and a little up-and-comer named Beyoncé will do as they step into the paws of such iconic characters like Simba, Pumba, Timon, and Nala, respectively. But before we sob our eyes out at Childish Gambino and Queen Bey giving their all on “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” we’ve got a special milestone to celebrate. And that’s the 25th anniversary of the original Lion King’s debut.That’s right—it’s been two-and-a-half freaking decades since Disney first introduced the world to the circle of life, Hakuna Matata, and the most dysfunctional sibling rivalry the savanna’s ever seen. The film went on to become recognized as, without question, the crown jewel of the Mouse House’s animated library, becoming one of 1994’s highest-grossing films of the year, second in the U.S. only to Forrest Gump.
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However, even as all of us recite our favorite lines, there’s a whole lot more to know about Simba’s first reign. So, the fine folks at E! pulled together 25 factoids.
Here are the first five:
- The film was originally called The King of the Jungle until everyone involved realized that lions don’t, you know, live in the jungle.
- In production at the same time as Pocahontas, many at Disney believed that film would be the more prestigious and successful of the two, leading to many of the studio’s top animators choosing to work on it over The Lion King.
- Pumba the warthog, voiced by Ernie Sabella, holds the esteemed distinction of being the first Disney character to fart on screen.
- While there are certainly influences from William Shakespeare‘s Hamlet in The Lion King, the film marked the first Disney animated feature to not be based on a book or fairy tale.
- Sean Connery was the first choice to provide the voice of Mufasa, which eventually went to James Earl Jones instead.
Bonus Round: Lion King at 25
The whole list is fascinating, but here’s one more bonus fact: “The film’s representation of hyenas actually angered some biologists who objected to seeing the animals characterized as villains. One researcher actually sued Disney for defamation of character, while another encouraged boycotting the film as a means of helping preserve hyenas in the wild.”
That’s a laugh! Ha… But what was your favorite factoid in the bunch?
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Tags: The Lion KingWalt Disney AnimationWalt Disney Animation StudiosWalt Disney Studios
A graduate of Boston and Northeastern universities, John Bishop, became the beat reporter for BostonBruins.com before the B’s 2006-07 hockey season. While with the Bruins, “Bish” traveled North America and Europe to cover the Black & Gold’s every move via laptop, blog, and smartphone. The co-author of two books, Bygone Boston and Full 60 to History: The Inside Story of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, John covered the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010 and the B’s 2011 championship run and banner raising before taking a faculty/communications position at a prep school outside Boston in 2013. He lives with his wife Andrea, and sons Jack, Scott, and Luke, in central Massachusetts.
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