Trivia / The Lion King

  • Actor Allusion:
    • James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair played an African king and queen in Coming to America as well. Jones voicing the father of the protagonist also brings to mind his most famous role.
    • Zazu is a royal advisor played by Rowan Atkinson. This was apparently because Tim Rice is a fan of Blackadder.
    • When Scar says "You have no idea," in response to Simba telling him he's weird, it's said with the exact same intonation as when Claus von Bülow says it in Reversal of Fortune. Both characters were played by Jeremy Irons.
  • All-Star Cast: The film that started the trend of hiring a slew of name actors for an animated film rather than less well known voiceover specialists. Though it is not the first to do so, it is the most successful movie in the Disney animated canon for a reason and this was a big part of it.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: The most successful traditionally animated film of all time; spawned a hit Broadway show, which runs to this day, a Direct-to-Video sequel (and one midquel), an two reasonably successful TV series. Did we also mention that those series debuted twenty years apart?
  • Cut Song: There are quite a few. A song for Mufasa to sing called "To Be King", a song for Sarabi titled "The Lion In The Moon", a reprise of "Be Prepared" and "Warthog Rhapsody", which was the original Hakuna Matata and was reworked for the midquel. Additionally, a "work in progress" trailer that was attached to the beginning of Disney's The Fox and the Hound Walt Disney Classics video had a snippet of a different version of "Can You Feel The Love Tonight", which the Lion King Deluxe Laserdisc included in its entirety. Unfortunately, only a few of these songs made it onto the extra features of the Platinum Edition DVD and the Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Keep Circulating the Tapes indeed.
  • End of an Era: In a number of ways.
    • It was the last Disney feature to be produced by the power duo of Jeff Katzenberg and Michael Eisner, who's power struggle for control of the company led to their seething hatred of one another and had finally gotten out of control when their mediator Frank Wells died in a helicopter crash. Katzenberg, who had felt as though his contributions to the films he produced were being taken for granted, left Disney following his lobbying for CEO to found DreamWorks Animation.
    • It was the second-to-last traditionally animated film to be hugely financially successful. The following year saw the release of the first fully computer-animated feature, Toy Story, which blew the Disney Animated Canon's own Pocahontas out of the water (it didn't help that Pocahontas is the sole critical dud of the Renaissance, getting mixed reviews and a "Rotten" rating). The fact that it began Disney's string of notoriously formulaic "be yourself" mega-musicals, which paled compared to flashy new CGI films, ended up souring the medium's reputation at the Turn of the Millennium, eventually leading to all Hollywood studios abandoning hand-drawn animation outright by the middle of the decade.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • A positive and amusing example: Mufasa's infamous death scene was originally several seconds shorter than it appeared in the final film. At one pencil test review, Jeffrey Katzenberg turned to the animators, pointed to his dry eye and announced "I'm not cryin'!" The result was a longer scene that touched every single emotional nerve in an effort to become as sad as possible.
    • A more traditional example with the Licensed Game: The infamously difficult second level was made more difficult in the last moments of development, due to a mandate that it be difficult enough to keep renters from finishing it before the return date, thereby encouraging them to buy it.
  • Fan Nickname: Common within the fandom. For example there's an Outsider dubbed "Dotty" by many due to the small dots under her eyes.
  • Image Source:
  • In Memoriam: The film is dedicated to Walt Disney Company president Frank Wells, who died in a helicopter crash three months before the film was released.
  • Manual Misprint: One of the lyric sheets for the soundtrack gets "Be Prepared" wrong.
    You won't get a sniff out of me!
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Most of the top animators picked working on Pocahontas instead of The Lion King, as they thought that would become Disney's next critical darling/box office hit. Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was one of the main brains behind The Lion King, was the biggest victim of this because this trope combo happened to him FOUR times (with The Black Cauldron and The Great Mouse Detective earliest, then Oliver & Company and The Little Mermaid, and The Prince of Egypt and Shrek at DreamWorks later.)
  • Non-Singing Voice: Simba and Nala have separate actors for their speaking and singing voices, both young and adult. Jeremy Irons sings some of Scar's lyrics, but partway through, the harsher lyrics were replaced by that of Jim Cummings, since Irons couldn't sing the more demanding parts after "YOU WON'T GET A SNIFF WITHOUT ME!" line in "Be Prepared", resulting in Cummings subbing for him.
  • The Other Darrin: When it was apparent that Jeremy Irons wouldn't be able to hit the high notes near the end of "Be Prepared", Jim Cummings stepped in to record the last verse. Only trained ears can hear the difference.
  • Playing Against Type:
  • Referenced by...: See this page.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: A Lion King Timon and Pumbaa coloring book from 1996 got plagiarized and produced as a Kung Fu Panda predecessor in 2011 in an attempt to defraud Katzenberg's other studio and Panda copyright holder DreamWorks Animation; when they found the original book, it sunk that attempt and got the person behind it charged with fraud and ultimately convicted. In addition, Disney could possibly sue the man for plagiarizing one of their works directly, which they've always frowned on (DWA and co-defendant Paramount declined an option to countersue the man as part of a settlement agreement). note 
  • Sleeper Hit: As mentioned under Magnum Opus Dissonance, Disney executives considered The Lion King to be nothing more than a filler on the way to the real hit, Pocahontas. Instead, Pocahontas underperformed commercially (relative to expectations) and critically. The Lion King went on to be the highest grossing traditionally animated film ever, which it still holds today, and is still widely regarded as one of the greatest animated films of all time.
  • Throw It In: Nathan Lane supposedly ad-libbed some of his dialogue, including the "hula" line.
  • Trope Namer:
  • Troubled Production:
    • A director fell out due to conflicts with the creative team. The script needed much fine-tuning. And an earthquake hit California during the final months of production, forcing the animators to work at home.
    • Cheech Marin said once that he doesn't remember exactly when he recorded his dialogue for Banzai, but he said it had to have been still The '80s. He also said that by the time the movie finally came out, he had forgotten he was even in it!
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Shenzi was originally supposed to be voiced by Tommy Chong, and would have reunited Chong with his former comedy partner, Cheech Marin. However, the two were not on speaking terms at the time, and the character was changed into a female due to hyenas being matriarchal, with Whoopi Goldberg performing the voice. Cheech and Chong have since reunited and Chong made his way into another Disney production.
    • In 1990, Nala had a younger brother named Mheetu, there was a fox character named Bhati, there was supposed to be a second meekrat character early in the film named Tesma, and Simba's early cub designs looked different.
    • Scar was unrelated to Mufasa at first, but the writers decided his takeover would have more impact if he was family instead of a rogue.
    • Some characters' names were changed at different stages of production. Pumbaa was originally named "Harold" and Nala was "Nadra". Nala's father was supposed to be a character.
    • Mufasa's stint as Rafiki's Spirit Advisor was originally planned to be much more obvious, with the former Lion King's ghost actively speaking to the shaman. Wisely realizing this might come across as unintentionally hilarious, or at least a breaking of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief, the directors decided to instead have all interactions between Rafiki and Mufasa symbolized by the blowing of the wind. This fact is later emphasized when the wind blows around Simba, just before he listens to Kiara and accepts the Outlanders back, and explains why he looks so happy and on the verge of tears at the end, even before he hears Mufasa say "Well done, my son."
    • The screenwriters originally envisioned Sean Connery as Mufasa. Timothy Dalton and Liam Neeson were also considered.
    • James Caan, Tim Curry Robert Duvall, Ray Liotta and Malcolm McDowell were considered for Scar.
    • Virginia Mc Kenna, Helen Mirren and Vanessa Redgrave were considered for Sarabi.
    • Timon and Pumbaa were nearly voiced by Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson. This was suggested by Tim Rice, who wrote Hakuna Matata after watching Bottom. The characters would have also been a lot more jerkish towards each other (basically Richie and Eddie as a meerkat and a warthog). However, Katzenberg thought this characterization was too unlikeable.
    • Joe Pesci was offered to do the voice of Banzai or Timon, but turned both of the roles down due to schedule conflicts.
    • A great many British comedy actors were considered for Zazu - John Cleesenote , Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Patrick Stewart, Simon Callow, Chris Barrie, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie, David Jason, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Spike Milligan, Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett and Vic Reeves.
    • 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.
    • The film was originally Darker and Edgier. It was to be themed around a war between two prides of lions. Scar (a rogue at the time) was the leader of the "Mbala" pride, with Mufasa leading the "Ndona" pride. There was also a group of hyenas, led by Banagi (who later became Shenzi), who would have served as secondary antagonists. Kwashi was a baboon similar to Rafiki, though not as wacky. Noticeably it was much more violent and incest filled than the final product (a similar concept to this, albeit Lighter and Softer, was in the first Direct-to-Video movie).
    • In one concept for the beginning of 'Be Prepared', we could have seen Scar initially meeting the leader of the Hyenas alone, which would have shown him charming her. It was cut for reasons of 'ew' and of course, there were more awesome ways to show he was evil than molesting Whoopi Goldberg.
    • Disney has an official app about the movies development.
  • The Wiki Rule: Here is the wikia for the franchise.
  • Word of Saint Paul: Timon and Pumbaa's VAs consider them to be a gay couple.
  • Working Title: Before it was released, the film was originally called King of the Jungle. This was scrapped when someone pointed out that, well, lions don't live in the jungle.

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