- The Lion King is the original film of the franchise. It was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation, and was released to theaters on June 24, 1994 by Walt Disney Pictures. It was directed by Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers, and produced by Don Hahn. The Lion King is the 32nd film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics and belongs to an era known as the Disney Renaissance.
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride is a direct-to-video sequel to the first film. It was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on VHS in the United States on October 27, 1998. It was directed by Darrell Rooney and Rob LaDuca and produced by Jeannine Roussel. A 2-Disc special edition DVD with a music video, a short and three new games was released on August 31, 2004.
- The Lion King 1½ is a direct-to-video prequel/parallel/midquel to the first film. The film was released on Region 1 DVD in the United States on February 10, 2004, and on Region 2 DVD in Europe on January 1, 2004. It was directed by Bradley Raymond and produced by George A. Mendoza. The DVD contains special features including deleted scenes, a featurette hosted by Peter Graves, games and activities, and a music video performed by Raven-Symoné.
- The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar is a television movie that is the pilot for the animated series The Lion Guard. The television movie was released on November 22, 2015. It was directed by Howy Parkins and produced by Ford Riley.
- The Lion King (2019) is a computer animated remake of the traditional animated film. It was released to theaters on July 19, 2019 by Walt Disney Pictures. It was directed by Jon Favreau, and produced by Favreau, Jeffrey Silver and Karen Gilchrist.
- Timon & Pumbaa is an animated spin-off television series that centers on Timon and Pumbaa. The show ran for three seasons on The Disney Afternoon and CBS in the United States, and BBS in Canada from September 1, 1995 to November 1, 1998. It had Bobs Gannaway and Tony Craig serving as the executive producers for the first two seasons. As of Season 3, the show was produced by Chris Bartleman and Blair Peters, with Tedd Anasti and Patsy Cameron serving as the executive producers. Since February 8, 2009 (after its final airing on the now-defunct Toon Disney before replaced by Disney XD), this show was no longer on the air, but has returned along with some other favorites on March 23, 2012, as part of the new Disney Junior TV channel. The show stars Timon and Pumbaa. Taking place after the events of the original film, the characters are seen having misadventures in the jungle and across the globe in various settings.
- Timon and Pumbaa's Wild About Safety is an educational series that features nine short films that were produced by Disney Educational Productions and Underwriters Laboratories. Together with Timon (voiced by Bruce Lanoil) and Pumbaa (voiced by Ernie Sabella), students will learn a variety of safety lessons for around the house, for the environment, and for in the water that will help themselves and others avoid injuries, live problem-free, and be Safety Smart. At the end of each episode, Timon and Pumbaa sing a musical number reviewing all that they learned on the episode in question.
- The Lion Guard is an animated television series that premiered with a one-hour movie The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar on November 22, 2015 which was followed by a television series on Disney Junior on January 15, 2016. The Lion Guard follows Simba's son, Kion, as he assembles a group of animals to protect the Pride Lands known as the Lion Guard. Disney Junior general manager Nancy Kanter has described the series as being "kind of like The Lion King meets The Avengers".
- It's UnBungalievable! is an short educational series that aired on Disney Junior on January 9, 2016. It serves as a spin-off to fellow Disney Junior series The Lion Guard. The series educates the audicence on different animals and their habitats. Each episode features two different animal species selected by Bunga (voiced by Joshua Rush) and Ono (voiced by Atticus Shaffer) to compete for the title of who's the fastest, who has the best hair, etc. The episodes feature live-action footage from Disneynature and aim to educate audiences about different animal species.
A musical, based on the original animated film, debuted July 8, 1997, in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Orpheum Theatre. Directed by Julie Taymor, produced by Disney Theatrical, and written by the co-director of the original film, Roger Allers, with writer Irene Mecchi. The musical features actors in elaborate animal costumes, and complex puppetry, created by Taymor and Michael Curry. The musical is divided in two acts (with the first act ending when Simba transforms from cub into adult lion) and has music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, along with the musical score created by Hans Zimmer with choral arrangements by Lebo M. The musical incorporates several changes and additions to the storyline as compared to the film, as well as adding more songs.
The musical became a success even before premiering on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater on October 15, 1997 in previews with the official opening on November 13, 1997. On June 13, 2006, the Broadway production moved to the Minskoff Theatre to make way for the musical version of Mary Poppins, where it is still running. It is now Broadway's fourth longest-running show in history. The show debuted in the West End's Lyceum Theatre on October 19, 1999 and is still running. The cast of the West End production were invited to perform at the Royal Variety Performance 2008 at the London Palladium on December 11, in the presence of senior members of the British Royal Family. Other productions within the U.S. include a Los Angeles production at the Pantages Theatre, at Charlotte in the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, and a Las Vegas production at Mandalay Bay. International productions include a British at the Lyceum Theatre in London, a Canadian at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, a Mexican in Mexico City, and an African in Johannesburg, South Africa, among others. The first ever UK tour opened at Bristol Hippodrome on August 31, 2012.
There are several video games based on the films, and the characters have made appearances in other crossover video games.
- The Lion King is a video game that was developed by Westwood Studios and published by Virgin Interactive for the Super NES, Game Boy, PC, Sega Genesis, Amiga, Sega Master System, and Game Gear in 1994. The game is a side-scrolling platform game, with the controlled character having to leap, climb, run, and descend from platform to platform. There is an exception during the level The Stampede, where Simba is running towards (or in the Game Boy version, running with the camera looking straight down on top of him, while the Game Gear version is a side scrolling platformer like the other stages) the camera dodging wildebeest and leaping over rocks.
In most versions of the game two bars appear on the HUD. To the left is the roar meter, which must be fully charged for Simba's roar to be effective. To the right is the health bar which decreases when Simba is hurt. At the bottom left of the screen is a counter showing how many lives Simba has remaining. Health can be restored by collecting bugs which come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some rare health-damaging bugs also exist.
The player controls Simba (first as a cub, then later as an adult) in the main levels and either Timon or Pumbaa in the bonus levels.
- Timon & Pumbaa's Jungle Games is a Super NES and Microsoft Windows game released on the latter system under the Disney Gamebreak label and published by Disney Interactive. he game was developed for Windows by 7th Level and released in 1995. It was developed for SNES by Tiertex and published by THQ. The game was released for SNES in November 1997 in North America and on March 26, 1998. The game contains five mini-games that feature Timon, Pumbaa, and other jungle animals from The Lion King. The object in this game is to have fun while Timon and Pumbaa entertain the player with glimpses of jungle living, especially when certain mini-games require the player to consume insects. The games are: Jungle Pinball (self-explanatory), Burper (a shooter type game, using Pumbaa to belch gas), Hippo Hop (concept similar to Frogger), Bug Drop (based on Puyo Puyo), and Slingshooter (a slingshot game) accessible directly from the menu. The PC version featured a full voiceover, complete with humorous introductions to games. The SNES version lacks Bug Drop (as it was released as a stand-alone cart in the form of Kirby's Avalanche) and does not feature the voiceovers, but has some sound effects from the PC version intact, although in lower quality.
- The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure is a video game published by Activision in 2000 for the Playstation and Game Boy Color. Unlike the previous The Lion King video game, it adhered more closely to the events in the film and the storyline carried on into The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, with Simba having to battle his evil uncle Scar, rescue his daughter Kiara (the protagonist from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride), and finally battle Zira.
- The Lion King 1½ was published for the GBA based on the direct-to-video film and featuring Timon and Pumbaa as the playable characters. The game puts the players in the role of Timon and Pumbaa in a quest to find Hakuna Matata. It features three modes of game play which are solo, cooperative, and team mode. Solo mode lets the player play as either Timon or Pumbaa in a platforming gameplay completing levels. In cooperative mode, players alternate between both characters to solve puzzles and complete tasks. In team players use both the characters with Timon riding Pumbaa in chase sequences where they have to make sure he does not hit any obstacle. After each of the chapters are completed, players are awarded with special puzzle pieces. Upon collecting all of the puzzle pieces, an image of Hakuna Matata is displayed and five additional bonus levels are unlocked as well as video clips from the film. Collecting all bugs in a level unlocks time-limited bonus levels.
Some of the film's characters are playable in Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure, a spin-off of the Tony Hawk games. In the Disney Interactive Studios and Square Enix video game Kingdom Hearts, Simba appears as an ally that Sora can summon during battles. He also appears again as a summon character in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. In Kingdom Hearts II, the Pride Lands are a playable world and a number of characters from the film appear. Simba is also a playable character in the video game Disney Friends.
Several attractions based on The Lion King have been released.
A 70 mm film entitled Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable is shown in the Harvest Theater in The Land Pavilion at Epcot in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida. It opened on January 21, 1995 replacing Symbiosis. Compared to the said film, Circle of Life is more an edutainment attraction and more kid-friendly. In the film, Timon and Pumbaa are chopping down trees and clogging up rivers to build the Hakuna Matata Lakeside Village. Simba comes to them and explains how their actions are harmful to nature. This lesson is explained with live-action footage, some left over from Symbiosis.
The Lion King: Six New Adventures, a collection of six spin-off books was published in 1994 by Grolier Enterprises Inc. The books were approved by Disney and take place after The Lion King. The story of the books center around Kopa, the son of Simba who is mischievous and adventurous but good-hearted just like his father was when he was young. In each book, while doing a mischief Kopa learns a life-lesson and meets up with Rafiki who gives him wisdom by narrating the past tales of the Pridelands. The story of the books was completely ignored by Disney in The Lion King sequels and isn't considered canon.
The Legend of the Lion King was an underground stage performance retelling the story of the film using fully articulated puppets in Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland. This attraction ran from June 1994 to February 2002.
A Broadway-caliber short-form stage musical named Festival of the Lion King is performed live in Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Florida and in Adventureland at Hong Kong Disneyland. It uses the concept of tribal celebration in combination with ideas from Disney's Electrical Parade. The show is in the form of a revue, and not a condensed version of either the film or Broadway show. However, it features the award-winning music from the first film, written by Elton John and Tim Rice. The show uses songs, dance, puppetry and visual effects to create an African savannah setting filled with lions, elephants, giraffes, birds, zebras and gazelles.
The Lion King Celebration was a parade based on the film that ran at Disneyland from June 1, 1994 to June 1, 1997. It was designed as though the story of Simba was a tale passed down in Africa for generations. The parade featured six floats designed around different aspects of Africa, dancers dressed in animal costumes and a Pride Rock float featuring Simba and Nala.
Many characters from The Lion King appear in the Disney Channel series Disney's House of Mouse. Some of them also appear in the series' spin-off films Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse and Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed are the villain members in Mickey's House of Villains. The characters also appear at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a meet and greet characters.
In The Lion King, In the Pride Lands of Africa, a lion rules over the animals as king. The birth of King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi's son Simba creates envy and resentment in Mufasa's younger brother, Scar, who knows his nephew now replaces him as heir to the throne. After Simba has grown into a young cub, Mufasa gives him a tour of the Pride Lands, teaching him the responsibilities of being a king and the circle of life. Later that day, Scar tricks Simba and his best friend Nala into exploring a forbidden elephant graveyard, despite the protests of Mufasa's hornbill majordomo Zazu. At the graveyard, three spotted hyenas named Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed attack the cubs before Mufasa, alerted by Zazu, rescues them and forgives Simba for his actions. That night, the hyenas, who are allied with Scar, plot with him to kill Mufasa and Simba.
The next day Scar lures Simba to a gorge and tells him to wait there while he gets Mufasa. On Scar's orders, the hyenas stampede a large herd of wildebeest into the gorge. Mufasa rescues Simba, but as Mufasa tries to climb up the gorge's walls, Scar throws him back into the stampede, where he is trampled to death. After Simba finds Mufasa's body, Scar convinces him he was responsible for his father's death and advises Simba to flee the kingdom. As Simba leaves, Scar orders Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed to kill the cub, but Simba escapes. That night, Scar announces to the pride that both Mufasa and Simba were killed in the stampede and steps forward as the new king, allowing a pack of hyenas to live in the Pride Lands.
After running far away, Simba collapses from exhaustion in a desert. Timon and Pumbaa, a meerkat and a warthog, find him and nurse him back to health. Simba subsequently grows up with them in the jungle, living a carefree life with his friends under the motto "hakuna matata" ("no worries" in Swahili). When he is a young adult, Simba rescues Timon and Pumbaa from a hungry lioness, who turns out to be Nala. She and Simba reconcile and fall in love. Nala urges Simba to return home, telling him the Pride Lands have become a wasteland with not enough food and water. Feeling guilty over his father's death, Simba refuses and storms off, leaving Nala disappointed and angry. As Simba exits the jungle, he encounters Mufasa's mandrill friend and advisor, Rafiki. Rafiki tells Simba that Mufasa is "alive" and takes him to a pond. There Simba is visited by the ghost of Mufasa in the sky, who tells him he must take his rightful place as the king of the Pride Lands. Simba realizes he can no longer run from his past and goes home. Nala, Timon, and Pumbaa join him, and agree to help him fight.
At the Pride Lands, Simba sees Scar hit Sarabi and confronts him, but Scar taunts Simba over his "part" in Mufasa's death. However, when Scar pushes Simba to the edge of Pride Rock, he reveals that he killed Mufasa. Enraged, Simba roars back up and forces Scar to reveal the truth to the pride. Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki, Zazu, and the lionesses fend off the hyenas while Scar, attempting to escape, is cornered by Simba at the top of Pride Rock. Scar begs Simba for mercy, insisting that he is family and placing the blame on the hyenas. Simba no longer believes Scar, but spares his life on the grounds of forever leaving the Pride Lands. Scar appears to comply, but then attacks his nephew. After a fierce fight, Simba throws his uncle off Pride Rock. Scar survives the fall, but is attacked and eaten alive by the hyenas, who overheard his attempt to betray them.
With Scar and the hyenas gone, Simba ascends to the top of Pride Rock and takes over the kingdom as the rain falls again. Sometime later, with Pride Rock restored to its former glory, Simba looks down happily at his kingdom with Nala, Timon, and Pumbaa by his side; Rafiki presents Simba and Nala's newborn cub to the inhabitants of the Pride Lands, and the "circle of life" continues.
The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa follows the further adventures of its title characters, as they live their problem-free philosophy Hakuna Matata. The pair are normally seen having adventures/misadventures both within' and outside of the Serengeti. This series also has episodes centering on Rafiki, Zazu, and Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed. Simba himself also makes recurring appearances throughout the show.
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride begins with the presentation of Simba and Nala's cub named Kiara. Simba is very protective of his daughter and assigns Timon and Pumbaa to be her guardians. One day, after an argument between Simba and Kiara, the young lioness sneaks into the Outlands, the place in which a group of lions loyal to Scar reside after Simba exiles them from the Pride Lands. In the Outlands, Kiara meets a young lion named Kovu, Scar's hand-chosen successor, and the two of them befriend each other until Simba and Kovu's mother, Zira arrive and a fight between Pride Landers and Outsiders almost takes place. Later in the film, Zira decides that she can use Kovu's new friendship with Kiara to get her revenge against Simba. Kiara is next seen as a young adult lioness and is set to go for her first solo-hunt, but discovers that her father still sends Timon and Pumbaa to watch her. Furious, Kiara goes further from home until Zira's other children, Nuka and Vitani, set fire to the plains where Kiara is hunting, causing her to faint and giving Kovu the chance to rescue her. Simba finds that Kovu has helped Kiara and reluctantly allows him into the Pride Lands. While Simba struggles with the idea of accepting Kovu, Kiara and Kovu eventually fall in love. One morning, Simba invites Kovu for a walk but they are ambushed by Zira and her pride. They attack Simba but, while chasing him, Nuka dies, resulting in Zira blaming and attacking Kovu for his death giving him a scar over his left eye. A wounded Simba exiles Kovu as he thinks Kovu was behind the ambush, but Kiara reunites with Kovu away from the Pride Rock. Meanwhile, Zira leads her pride in a war against the Pride Lands and a fierce battle breaks out. Kovu and Kiara leap between them and Kiara reminds her father that, by his own words, "we are one". Zira ignores her, but Vitani and the other Outsiders agree. Now alone, Zira leaps for Simba, but Kiara pushes her away and they fall over a cliff. Kiara lands on a rock, but Zira slips and falls to her death. Simba allows the Outsiders, including Kovu, to return to the Pride Lands, and Kovu is allowed to stand with Kiara at the top of Pride Rock.
The Lion King 1½ is a retelling of the events of the first film from Timon and Pumbaa's perspective.
The Lion Guard focuses on Kion, Simba and Nala's son and Kiara's younger brother, as he assembles the titular team of animals to protect the Pride Lands. The series takes place within' the time gap of the second film, with the third and final season taking place in parallel with the second act of said film.
The idea for The Lion King was conceived in late 1988 during a conversation between Jeffrey Katzenberg, Roy E. Disney, and Peter Schneider on a plane to Europe to promote Oliver & Company. During the conversation, the topic of a story set in Africa came up, and Katzenberg immediately jumped at the idea. The idea was then developed by Walt Disney Feature Animation's vice president for creative affairs Charlie Fink. Katzenberg decided to add elements involving coming of age and death, and ideas from personal life experiences, such as some of his trials in his bumpy road in politics, saying about the film, "It is a little bit about myself." In November of that year Thomas Disch (author of The Brave Little Toaster) wrote a treatment entitled King of the Kalahari, and afterwards Linda Woolverton spent a year writing drafts of the script, which was titled King of the Beasts and then King of the Jungle. The original version of the film was very different from the final film. The plot was centered in a battle being between lions and baboons with Scar being the leader of the baboons, Rafiki being a cheetah, and Timon and Pumbaa being Simba's childhood friends. Simba would also not leave the kingdom, but become a "lazy, slovenly, horrible character" due to manipulations from Scar, so Simba could be overthrown after coming of age. By 1990, producer Thomas Schumacher, who had just completed The Rescuers Down Under, decided to attach himself to the project "because lions are cool". Schumacher likened the script for King of the Jungle to "an animated National Geographic special".
Oliver & Company director George Scribner was the initial director of the film, being later joined by Roger Allers, who was the lead story man on Beauty and the Beast in October 1991. Allers brought with him Brenda Chapman, who would become the head of story. Afterwards, several of the lead crew members, including Allers, Scribner, Hahn, Chapman, and production designer Chris Sanders, took a trip to Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya, in order to study and gain an appreciation of the environment for the film. After six months of story development work Scribner decided to leave the project, as he clashed with Allers and the producers on their decision to turn the film into a musical, as Scribner's intention was of making a documentary-like film more focused on natural aspects. Rob Minkoff replaced Scribner, and producer Don Hahn joined the production as Schumacher became only an executive producer due to Disney promoting him to Vice President of Development for Feature Animation. Hahn found the script unfocused and lacking a clear theme, and after establishing the main theme as "leaving childhood and facing up to the realities of the world", asked for a final retool. Allers, Minkoff, Chapman, and Hahn then rewrote the story across two weeks of meetings with directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, who had just finished Beauty and the Beast. The script also had its title changed from King of the Jungle to The Lion King, as the setting was not the jungle but the savannah.
The Lion King was the first Disney animated feature to be an original story, rather than being based on an already-existing work. The filmmakers have said that the story of The Lion King was inspired by the lives of Joseph and Moses from the Bible and William Shakespeare's Hamlet. During the summer of 1992, the team was joined by screenwriter Irene Mecchi, with a second screenwriter, Jonathan Roberts, joining a few months later. Mecchi and Roberts took charge of the revision process, fixing unresolved emotional issues in the script and adding comic business for Pumbaa, Timon, and the hyenas. Lyricist Tim Rice worked closely with the writing team, flying to California at least once a month, as his songs needed to work in the narrative continuity. Rice's lyrics – which were reworked up to the production's end – were even pinned to the storyboards during development. Rewrites were frequent, with animator Andreas Deja saying that completed scenes would be delivered only for the response to be that parts needed to be reanimated due to dialog changes.
The voice actors were chosen for how they fit and could add to the characters – for instance, James Earl Jones was cast because the directors found his voice "powerful" and similar to a lion's roar. Jones commented that during the years of production, Mufasa "became more and more of a dopey dad instead of [a] grand king".
Nathan Lane originally auditioned for Zazu, and Ernie Sabella, for one of the hyenas. Upon meeting each other at the recording studio, the actors, who at the time both co-starred in Guys and Dolls, were asked to record together as hyenas. The directors laughed at their performance and decided to cast them as Timon and Pumbaa. For the hyenas, the original intention was to reunite Cheech & Chong, but while Cheech Marin accepted to play Banzai, Tommy Chong was unavailable. Thus his role was changed into a female hyena, Shenzi, who was voiced by Whoopi Goldberg.
Matthew Broderick was cast as adult Simba early during production, and during the three years of voice acting only recorded with another actor once, and only discovered Moira Kelly voiced Nala at the premiere. Jeremy Irons had at first refused the role due to not being comfortable going from the dramatic performance as Claus von Bülow in Reversal of Fortune to a comedic role. But once he came in, Irons' performance even inspired the writers to incorporate more of his acting as von Bülow — even adding one of that character's lines, "You have no idea" - and animator Andreas Deja to watch both Reversal of Fortune and Damage to pick up Irons' facial traits and tics.
The development of The Lion King started concurrently with Pocahontas, which most of the animators of Walt Disney Feature Animation decided to work on instead, believing it would be the more prestigious and successful of the two. The story artists also did not have much faith in the project, with Chapman declaring she was reluctant to accept the job "because the story wasn't very good", and writer Burny Mattinson saying to co-worker Joe Ranft about the film that "I don't know who is going to want to watch that one." Most of the leading animators were either doing their first major work supervising a character, or had much interest in animating an animal. Thirteen of these supervising animators, both in California and Florida, were responsible for establishing the personalities and setting the tone for the film's main characters. The animation leads for the main characters included Mark Henn on young Simba, Ruben A. Aquino on adult Simba, Andreas Deja on Scar, Aaron Blaise on young Nala, Anthony DeRosa on adult Nala, and Tony Fucile on Mufasa. Nearly 20 minutes of the film, including the "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" sequence, were animated at the Disney-MGM Studios facility. Ultimately, more than 600 artists, animators and technicians contributed to The Lion King over the course of its production. Weeks before the film was to be released, production was affected by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which shut off the studio and required the animators to finish their work from home.
The character animators studied real-life animals for reference, as was done for the 1942 Disney film Bambi. Jim Fowler, renowned wildlife expert, visited the studios on several occasions with an assortment of lions and other savannah inhabitants to discuss behavior and help the animators give their drawings an authentic feel. The animators also studied various animal movements in natural settings at the Miami MetroZoo under guidance from wildlife expert Ron Magill. The Pride Lands are modeled on the Kenyan national park visited by the crew. Varied focal lengths and lenses were employed to differ from the habitual portrayal of Africa in documentaries – which employ telephoto lenses to shoot the wildlife from a distance. The epic feel drew inspiration from concept studies by artist Hans Bacher – which, following Scribner's request for realism, tried to depict effects such as lens flare – and the works of painters Charles Marion Russell, Frederic Remington, and Maxfield Parrish. Since the characters were not anthropomorphized, all the animators had to learn to draw four-legged animals, and the story and character development was done through usage of longer shots following the characters.
The use of computers helped the filmmakers present their vision in new ways. For the "wildebeest stampede" sequence, several distinct wildebeest characters were created in a 3D computer program, multiplied into hundreds, cel shaded to look like drawn animation, and given randomized paths down a mountainside to simulate the real, unpredictable movement of a herd. Five specially trained animators and technicians spent more than two years creating the two-and-a-half minute stampede sequence. Other usages of computer animation were done through CAPS, which helped simulate camera movements such as tracking shots, and was employed on the coloring, lighting, and particle effects.
Lyricist Tim Rice, who was working with composer Alan Menken on songs for Aladdin, was invited to write the songs, and accepted on the condition of finding a composing partner. As Menken was unavailable, the producers accepted Rice's suggestion of Elton John, after Rice's invitation of ABBA fell through due to Benny Andersson being busy with the musical Kristina från Duvemåla. John expressed an interest in writing "ultra-pop songs that kids would like; then adults can go and see those movies and get just as much pleasure out of them", mentioning a possible influence of The Jungle Book, where he felt the "music was so funny and appealed to kids and adults".
John and Rice wrote five original songs for this film ("Circle of Life", "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", "Be Prepared", "Hakuna Matata", and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight") with the singer's performance of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" playing over the end credits. The IMAX and DVD releases added another song, "The Morning Report", which was based on a song discarded during development that eventually got featured in the live musical version of The Lion King. The film's score was composed by Hans Zimmer, who was hired based on his work in two films in African settings, The Power of One and A World Apart, and supplemented the score with traditional African music and choir elements arranged by Lebo M. Zimmer's partners Mark Mancina and Jay Rifkin helped with arrangements and song production.
The film's original motion picture soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records on July 13, 1994. It was the fourth-best-selling album of the year on the Billboard 200 and the top-selling soundtrack. It is the only soundtrack for an animated film to be certified Diamond (10× platinum) by the Recording Industry Association of America. Zimmer's complete instrumental score for the film was never originally given a full release by Disney, until the soundtrack's commemorative 20th anniversary re-release in 2014. The Lion King also inspired the 1995 release Rhythm of the Pride Lands, with eight songs by Zimmer, Mancina, and Lebo M.
The use of the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in a scene with Timon and Pumbaa has led to disputes between Disney and the family of South African Solomon Linda, who composed the song (originally titled "Mbube") in 1939. In July 2004, the family filed suit, seeking $1.6 million in royalties from Disney. In February 2006, Linda's heirs reached a legal settlement with Abilene Music, who held the worldwide rights and had licensed the song to Disney for an undisclosed amount of money.