The Lion King is a 1994 American animated feature produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation. Released to theaters on June 15, 1994 by Walt Disney Pictures, it is the 32nd film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics. The story, which was influenced by the Bible stories of Joseph and Moses and the William Shakespeare play Hamlet, takes place in a kingdom of anthropomorphic animals in Africa. The film was the highest grossing animated film of all time until the release of Finding Nemo (a Disney/Pixar computer-animated film). The Lion King is the sixth highest grossing animated film and continues to be the highest grossing hand drawn animation film in history and belongs to an era known as the Disney Renaissance.
The Lion King is the highest grossing 2D animated film of all time in the United States, and received positive reviews from critics, who praised the film for its music and story. During its release in 1994, the film grossed more than $783 million worldwide, becoming the most successful film released that year, and it is currently the 31st highest-grossing feature film.
A musical film, The Lion King garnered two Academy Awards for its achievement in music and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Songs were written by composer Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice, with an original score by Hans Zimmer. Disney later produced two related movies: a sequel, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride; and a part prequel-part parallel, The Lion King 1½.
The film opens with a gathering of countless animals around Pride Rock in Africa, where Rafiki the mandrill presents the newborn lion cub, Simba, of King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi. The only resident of the Pride Lands who is not happy in the least about it is Mufasa's younger brother, Scar, who wants the throne for himself. Simba grows quickly and is taught everything about the Pride Lands, including the neighboring Outlands, ruled by the ruthless hyenas and off limits for residents of the Pride Lands. When Scar tells Simba about an elephant graveyard in the Outlands, Simba and his best friend, Nala, outsmart Mufasa's hornbill majordomo, Zazu, and venture out into the Outlands where they come upon three hyenas, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, who try to kill them in the ensuing chase. Mufasa arrives to rescue the cubs in time after being alerted by Zazu, and teaches Simba an emotional lesson in bravery and valor.
Meanwhile, Scar plots with the hyenas a plan to kill both Mufasa and Simba and to take over the Pride Lands. On Scar's orders, the hyenas ignite a stampede of wildebeest in a gorge where Simba is, because Scar told him to stay there. Scar then rushes to inform Mufasa who manages to save Simba but is betrayed and thrown off a cliff by Scar. Simba finds his father's lifeless corpse in the middle of the gorge. Scar arrives and tricks Simba into thinking that it was him who was responsible for Mufasa's death. Due to the shame of such an act he encourages Simba to leave the Pride Lands and never return. Simba immediately turns and runs away while almost immediately Scar orders the hyenas to follow and kill Simba. A chase follows but Simba manages to escape. In Simba's absence, and being led to think that the Hyenas succeeded in killing Simba, Scar uses the opportunity to state that both Mufasa and Simba were killed in the stampede and declares himself as king. He takes over the Pride Lands and also allows the hyenas entry into the pride.
Simba, after fleeing is found collapsing in the wasteland by Timon, a meerkat, and Pumbaa, a warthog, who nurse him back to health and take him in, teaching him the ways of their motto, "Hakuna Matata". Years later, once Simba is an adult, he encounters Nala, who was trying to maul Timon and Pumbaa. Nala expresses her delight at discovering Simba alive, and informs him of how Scar's irresponsibility as King of the Pride Lands is going to drive everyone into starvation and eventual death. Still wrecked with guilt over supposedly causing his father's death Simba refuses to return and overthrow Scar but Rafiki has tracked Simba down and leads him to the ghost of Mufasa who reminds Simba who he is and how he must take his rightful place as King of the Pride Lands.
Simba returns with Nala, Timon and Pumbaa. While Timon and Pumbaa distract the hyenas Simba confronts Scar on Pride Rock after Scar strikes Sarabi across the face. Scar turns the tables by revealing that Simba caused Mufasa's demise and forces Simba towards the edge of Pride Rock, where he holds on for dear life. Just before Scar can throw Simba off, he quietly reveals that he killed Mufasa. Enraged, Simba leaps back up and pins Scar, forcing him to reveal his actions to the pride. A violent fight ensues between the hyenas and lionesses while Simba confronts Scar alone at the top of Pride Rock. Scar begs Simba for mercy accusing the hyenas of planning the whole thing. Simba prepares to show Scar mercy and exile him but Scar refuses to give up and the ensuing fight ends when Scar falls off Pride Rock. He survives the fall, but is immediately swarmed and consumed to death by the hyenas who overheard his treacherous actions.
With Scar now gone and the hyenas banished, Pride Rock is restored to its previous majesty under Simba's rule. The film closes with Rafiki presenting the animals with Simba and Nala's newborn cub.