young lion cub, Simba, struggles to find his place in nature's "circle of life" and follow in the regal paw prints of his father, the great King Mufasa, after his father is killed by his treacherous uncle, Scar. Scar convinces Simba that he is responsible for his father's death and urges him to run far away from the Pride Lands and never return. A frightened and guilt-stricken Simba flees into exile, where he is befriended by a wacky but warm-hearted warthog, Pumbaa, and his freewheeling meerkat companion, Timon. Simba adopts their "hakuna matata" (no worries) attitude toward life, living on a diet of bugs and taking things one day at a time as Simba matures into a young adult. When his childhood friend, Nala, arrives on the scene, he is persuaded to return to the Pride Lands, which have fallen into hard times under Scar's reign, and take his rightful place as king. The wise shaman baboon, Rafiki, convinces Simba that his father's spirit lives on in him and that he must accept his responsibility, and when he returns, he manages to defeat Scar and an army of hyenas to become the Lion King.
The project originally began a number of years earlier under the title "King of the Jungle." When production began, an artistic team traveled to Africa to search for ways to best present the African settings in the film, and the animators studied actual live lions and other animals that were brought to the Studio.
Computer-generated imagery was used to create the dramatic wildebeest stampede, a visual highlight in the film and a new level of sophistication for the art form.
"The Lion King" became one of the highest-grossing films of all time and is the highest-grossing film in Disney history. The original release was interrupted when kids went back to school in September, to return on November 18, 1994, this time paired with a three-minute preview of "Pocahontas." Released on video in 1995.
General release on June 24, 1994. Directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff. Starring: the voices of Jonathan Taylor Thomas (young Simba), Matthew Broderick (adult Simba), James Earl Jones (Mufasa), Jeremy Irons (Scar), Moira Kelly (adult Nala), Niketa Calame (young Nala), Ernie Sabella (Pumbaa), Nathan Lane (Timon), Robert Guillaume (Rafiki), Whoopi Goldberg (Shenzi), Cheech Marin (Banzai), and Jim Cummings (Ed). 88 min. Songs by Elton John and Tim Rice included "Circle of Life "Hakuna Matata," "Be Prepared," "I Just Can't Wait to Be King," and the Academy Award® winner for Best Song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." A second Oscar® was awarded to Hans Zimmer for Best Original Score.