With the “Lion King” remake breaking records, Buzzfeed has put together a list of 20 interesting facts about the original, which came out in 1994.
Here are 10 highlights:
1. Sean Connery was Disney’s first choice to play Mufasa. James Earl Jones ended up with the role . . . both in the original AND the new version.
2. Disney originally wanted Patrick Stewart or someone from “Monty Python” for the role of Zazu, the hornbill. Rowan Atkinson ended up with it. John Oliver plays Zazu in the new movie.
3. The opening lyrics: Quote, “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba . . . Sithi uhm ingonyama . . . ” from “Circle of Life“ literally translate to “There comes a lion, father . . . Oh yes, it’s a lion.” The opening is sung in Zulu.
4. Tim Rice co-wrote the lyrics for the movie’s songs, and he originally wanted ABBA to be on the soundtrack. When ABBA declined, he asked Elton John.
5. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” was the FIRST song Rice and Elton completed. It was also originally supposed to be sung only by Timon and Pumbaa. According to Ernie Sabella, who voiced Pumbaa, Elton was NOT happy that they were using the ballad as a parody, so it was reworked.
(You can kind of envision how it would’ve been with Timon and Pumbaa . . . especially since they start and finish it off. And you can hear a clip of Timon and Pumbaa’s version, here. Skip to 1:28 for Elton’s reaction.)
6. Then, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” was almost cut altogether because it didn’t fit the film’s father-and-son theme. It was put back in after Elton saw an early cut of the movie and made it clear that it NEEDED to be in.
Elton had said the reason he agreed to work on “Lion King” was to write a Disney love song.
8. Real lions were brought into the studio so animators could study them for inspiration. (Here’s video.)
9. Nathan Lane (Timon) and Ernie Sabella (Pumbaa) originally auditioned for the roles of the hyenas, Banzai and Shenzi.
Timon and Pumbaa were originally not in the movie. In an earlier draft, Simba never runs off, and is instead raised by Scar, even after Scar kills Mufasa.
10. “The Lion King” is the best-selling VHS tape of all time.
(Buzzfeed.com has the whole list.)
And here’s one other fact that you may not know: Pumbaa was the first Disney character to ever PASS GAS on screen.
Also “The Lion King” was originally titled “The King of the Jungle” . . . but thankfully someone realized that lions don’t actually live in jungles, and so the title was changed. The tagline still appeared in some of the early marketing, though.
And “The Lion King” got shafted by Disney’s creative team during development. “Pocahontas” was being produced at the same time, and Disney thought it had more potential, because of the historical roots.
So, Disney’s top animators worked on “Pocahontas”, and not “The Lion King”.