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THE LION KING Was Almost a Very Different Film, Co-Director Reveals

THE LION KING Was Almost a Very Different Film, Co-Director Reveals

Ever since its debut in 1994, The Lion King has proven to be one of Disney’s most popular animated movies of all time. It was an instant classic upon its debut, and remains beloved to this day. But that may not have been the case if Disney Animation hadn’t made some significant changes to the original story. Now, co-director Rob Minkoff has revealed that, originally, The Lion King had a much different story at its center than we could have imagined.

While speaking with Collider about the recently released The Lion King Walt Disney Signature Collection Blu-ray, Minkoff noted that the early version of the script was missing key elements – like Mufasa’s ghost –  and kept much closer to home than what ended up on screen.

“Mufasa got killed,” related Minkoff, but, “Simba never left Pride Rock. He just stayed on Pride Rock. Timon and Pumbaa were childhood friends. So they were at Pride Rock. Rafiki was part of the community of Pride Rock, not the same witch doctor living on his tree as a hermit. And there was a stampede, and Mufasa got killed by Scar, but then as soon as Simba took over as a teenager, Scar was acting as his regent, the prince regent. So he was kind of running the show behind the scenes, but Simba was there, acting like a terrible, teenage wastrel guy.”

It really is hard to picture that version of the story, especially considering that Simba fled from his home and spent so much of his time with Timon and Pumbaa outside of Pride Rock to gain a better perspective. More hilariously, the report adds that Timon and Pumbaa were originally supposed to perform the Oscar winning song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” But if Pumbaa’s voice actor, Ernie Sabella, is correct, then Elton John personally insisted that they keep his songs away from Timon and Pumbaa. (Probably for the best, to be honest.)

You can read the rest of Collider‘s report here, and it offers other lesser known details about the film, including the Shakespearean title that then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner almost gave the finished movie.

Could The Lion King have worked if Simba never went into exile? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Images: Walt Disney Pictures

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