It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here! Starting on June 24, you can finally buy tickets to see Disney's new live-action remake of The Lion King. A new teaser trailer for the film, set to debut next month, was even released to mark the exciting occasion. Today is also special because the beloved Disney movie has officially turned 25 years old. So in honor of this big milestone, here are 10 fun facts about The Lion King to help you celebrate and get you even more excited for the new rendition to hit theaters soon.
The Lion King debuted on June 24, 1994 and quickly went on to become the highest grossing film of the year. It was released in the middle of the Disney Renaissance, which included other classics like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. The Lion King also ushered in an age of tie-in merchandising that is still going on, according to Entertainment Weekly, and of course, has a special place in so many childhoods.
As the story of a youngster who has to cope with grief and rise to take his place in life, it’s easily one of the most-loved movies for the whole family ever produced. But those are the things we already know — here are a few facts you might have missed about the OG Lion King.
1. 'The Lion King' Was Disney's First Original Story
This was the first time Disney came up with a feature-length film based on an original script, according to The Daily Beast. There were lots of Disney productions before this, of course, but all had been based on some kind of existing children’s story or fable.
In the press notes for the movie, Roy Disney, co-founder of The Walt Disney Company, was quoted as saying:
In the early days, Walt adapted many of Aesop's fables for animation and used animal characters like Mickey and Donald to tell his stories. Later Bambi, Lady and the Tramp and One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and some of the True Life Adventures further explored the approach of telling stories about animals in human terms and with strong moral themes. I think Lion King very much has its roots in those films and I am personally delighted because it opens up whole new worlds for us in storytelling.
2. Some Parts Of The Movie Come From Real-Life Inspiration
The host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and zoologist Jim Fowler visited the Disney animation studios with lions and other animals to help animators with their inspiration. And Fowler was the one who taught animators the classic move lions make of showing affection by rubbing heads, according to the film's press notes.
3. Production Was Thrown For A Loop
The film’s creation took a difficult turn after an earthquake temporarily shut down the studios, and as such, a lot of work was completed at the animators’ homes, according to The Sun.
4. It Might've Had A Different Name
5. Scar Got Some Help From A Co-Star
6. The Movie Implemented Some New Technology
Although most of the movie was done in the traditional hand-drawn animation style, the wildebeest stampede was computer generated, according to Oh My Disney. Still, the scene took three years to make, and required a new computer program that would keep the animals from appearing to pass through one another while they ran, as Oh My Disney explained.
7. Producers Apparently Had Minimal Expectations
Disney thought the other film they were animating at the same time, Pocahontas, was more likely to be a hit, according to IMDb, so they put their best animators on that and scheduled the “B team” to work on The Lion King.
8. The Lion Roars Weren't Voiced By Lions
9. The "Circle of Life" Was Created In Record Time
Elton John created the music for “Circle of Life” in less than two hours, according to lyricist Tim Rice, as reported in the film's press notes.
“He has always said if he doesn't get a tune right in 20 minutes he just throws it away," Rice said in the notes. "I witnessed him create 'Circle of Life' from start to finish. I gave him the lyrics at the beginning of the session at about two in the afternoon. He didn't want it before. By half past three, he'd finished writing and recording a stunning demo."
10. Mufasa May Have Been Voiced By Someone Else
James Earl Jones is such a classic Mufasa, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. But, according to Sean Connery's IMDb page, he was actually Disney’s first choice for the role and the character was "written with him in mind."
There's so much goodness in those two hours of film, and soon we get to relive it all again. And we won't have to wait long now to find out how the new live-action version is going to stack up against this beloved animated classic.
The Lion King hit theaters nationwide on July 19.