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

A scene from Disney's 1994 animated classic, 'The Lion King.'.
A scene from Disney's 1994 animated classic, 'The Lion King.'. Disney

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.

WATCH: From Backstreet Boys to the Lion King: Why we crave nostalgia

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

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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.

READ MORE: ‘The Lion King’ review — Live-action version delivers exactly what you’d expect

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. Some suggested the film was a knockoff of a Japanese-made American cartoon called Kimba the White Lion created by Osamu Tezuka, who died in 1989. Tezuka Productions, which controls the rights to Tezuka’s work, told the New York Times that the late Tezuka was an avid Disney fan who would have been flattered if his work inspired The Lion King.

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Contact:

Twitter: @1990spodcast

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Facebook: @1990shistory

Instagram: @that90spodcast

Email: 90s@curiouscast.ca

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