The Lion King is one of the most popular movies ever made. Here are 20 things you never knew about it.
1. The film was originally going to be a realistic drama set in Africa, but the idea was eventually scrapped in favor of a more traditional Disney animated film.
2. The original script was much darker than the final product, with Mufasa being killed by Scar early on and Simba being raised by hyenas.
3. The movie’s iconic opening sequence, where baby Simba is presented to the animals of the Pride Lands, was almost cut from the film due to time constraints.
4. Tim Rice wrote the lyrics for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” without knowing that it was already a song. He only found out after the fact.
5. The original plan was for Mufasa to be voiced by James Earl Jones, but when Jones couldn’t make the recording sessions, his son, Christopher, stepped in and did the job instead.
6. The “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” sequence was almost cut from the film because Disney felt it was too sexually suggestive.
7. Scar was originally going to be voiced by Jeremy Irons, but he wasn’t available for the recording sessions, so Jim Cummings stepped in and did the job instead.
8. The movie’s title was almost changed to “King of the Jungle”, but it was eventually decided that “The Lion King” sounded better.
9. The movie was the first Disney animated film to be released on home video before it aired on television.
10. “Hakuna Matata” was almost cut from the film because Disney felt it was too similar to “The Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book.
11. The movie’s budget was originally $22 million, but it eventually ballooned to $45 million.
12. The movie was originally going to end with Simba being crowned king, but the ending was changed to include Mufasa’s ghost appearing to Simba and telling him that he will always be with him.
13. Elton John was initially reluctant to write songs for the film, but he eventually came on board after he saw the film’s storyboards.
14. The movie was the first Disney animated film to be released in theaters in IMAX.
15. “Be Prepared” was almost cut from the film because Disney felt it was too dark and disturbing.
16. The movie won two Academy Awards, for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (“Can You Feel The Love Tonight”).
17. The movie was adapted into a Broadway musical, which opened in 1997 and is still running today.
18. A sequel, The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, was released direct-to-video in 1998.
19. A spin-off television series, The Lion Guard, premiered on Disney Channel in 2016.
20. A live-action remake of the film is currently in development, with Jon Favreau attached to direct. It is set for release in 2019.