History of the ’90s podcast: ‘The Lion King’

On this episode of History of the ’90s, host Kathy Kenzora looks at the story of the ultimate underdog — or maybe…under-cat? This is the little-known tale of how the 1994 animated feature The Lion King came to be.

Despite being one of Disney’s most cherished movies of all time, The Lion King was never expected to be such a massive hit. In fact, it was considered a filler movie to tide people over until Disney released Pocahontas.

The Lion King was the first Disney animated movie based on a completely original story. It had a smaller budget, and lesser-known directors worked on the film.

Most of Disney’s A-team animators chose to work on Pocahontas instead of The Lion King because they worried a movie about a talking lion cub would be a flop.

Those who ended up working on the film were so dedicated that when an earthquake shut down Disney studios in 1994, animators worked from their homes to make sure the movie was completed on time.

Despite these obstacles, The Lion King was a massive hit, making nearly $1 billion at the box office and winning several awards, including two Oscars. In addition, it spawned the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time and, of course, this year’s reboot starring Beyoncé and Donald Glover.

The original Lion King also attracted its fair share of criticism, including concerns about the movie’s hyena characters being portrayed in a negative light, and some suggested the film was a knockoff of a Japanese-made American cartoon called Kimba the White Lion.

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