In 1994, Disney Studios released a ground-breaking new animated feature, The Lion King. That cartoon would earn $1.8 million dollars domestically on its opening weekend and gross almost $1 billion since then.
Not bad for a kids movie.
When the original Lion King was released in theaters back in 1994, the studio was keen to promote the brand-new, computer animation technology featured in the wildebeest stampede. I remember being a kid and anxiously anticipating the moment, only to be blown away by the visuals… and then destroyed by the aftermath. But by the time the film was over, I was begging my parents for the soundtrack and secretly plotting ways to convince them to take me to see it again. Now it’s 2019 and I have my own kids begging me to take them to see “the new Lion King.”
Where Disney once specialized in telling their fantastical stories through traditional animation, advances in technology have allowed Disney to reimagine their classics. In the beginning, these films were looked at as unnecessary remakes of much-beloved childhood memories. But the films have evolved and grown just as much as the Disney movie lover. In Aladdin, not only were we treated to Will Smith’s version of the Genie but Disney took this opportunity to create even more depth in Jasmine’s character arc (and she even got her own song). This year’s version of The Lion King has an opportunity to bring to life characters that never seemed possible before. While the first Lion King was ground-breaking for its one scene of computer animation, this year’s adaptation features only one shot that is not entirely computer generated. Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa are now completely real and cuddly looking.
2019 has been dominated by Avengers: Endgame and rightfully so. But, at its core, Avengers is a comic book movie and there’s a very large part of the movie-going public who are not comic book fans. Not only is The Lion King a family movie (which means more tickets sold per group), it is also a story audiences already know and love. It’s a love story and an action-adventure comedy that can easily break opening weekend records. The songs, the characters, the visuals… they all remind us of that cartoon from 1994 that touched our hearts and made us want to duck right back into the theater and watch it again.
This July, a whole new generation will be introduced to a brand-new version of a story we all know and love.