The Lion King is a 1994 American animated feature film 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, the Epic of Sundiata, and the William Shakespeare play Hamlet, takes place in a kingdom of anthropomorphic lions in Africa. The film was the highest grossing animated film of all time until the release of Finding Nemo (a 2003 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 and has been called one of the best films of all time. 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 35th highest-grossing feature film ever. 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 (1998); and a prequel/parallel, The Lion King 1½ (2004).
A large number of animals gather around Pride Rock in Africa, where the wise mandrill Rafiki presents Simba, the newborn son of the lion King and Queen, Mufasa and Sarabi. Mufasa's younger brother, Scar, is displeased with the birth of this heir, as he desires the throne for himself. As Simba grows, Mufasa teaches him about being king. During a tour of the Pride Lands, Simba asks about a shadowy place; Mufasa tells him it is beyond their borders and that Simba must never go there. The lesson is cut short when Zazu, Mufasa's Hornbill adviser, informs him that hyenas have entered the Pride Lands. Mufasa tells Zazu to take Simba home while he gets rid of the hyenas. Later that day, Scar tells Simba that the shadowy place is in fact an elephant graveyard. Simba's curiosity is piqued, and he convinces his best friend Nala, a female lion cub, to come with him. Sarabi sends Zazu to keep an eye on the two cubs, but they soon leave him behind. They finally reach the elephant graveyard, where they come upon three spotted hyenas, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. The hyenas who try to kill the cubs, but during the ensuing chase, Mufasa arrives to rescue them. Mufasa sends Nala and Zazu back to Pride Rock, while he admonishes Simba. Later he teaches Simba about the stars, telling him that they represent all the great kings of the past and will always be there to guide him. Meanwhile, Scar plots with the hyenas to take over the Pride Lands. On Scar's orders, the hyenas stampede a large pack of grazing wildebeest into a gorge; in their panic, the wildebeests do not notice Simba ahead of them. Scar informs Mufasa of Simba's predicament, and Mufasa successfully rescues Simba. However, as Mufasa attempts to exit the gorge himself by climbing its walls, Scar refuses his request for assistance and throws him back into the gorge, resulting in his death. Scar tricks Simba into believing that Mufasa's death resulted from the cub's carelessness. Ashamed, Simba flees the Pride Lands, intending to never return. In Simba's absence, Scar steps forward as Mufasa's rightful heir and becomes the new King. Simba collapses in the wasteland after his escape, but is found by Timon, a meerkat, and Pumbaa, a warthog. The duo nurse him back to health and take him in, teaching him their motto, "Hakuna Matata" (interpreted as "no worries"). Years later, as an adult, Simba rescues Timon and Pumbaa from a hungry lioness, only to discover the lioness is Nala. She expresses her delight at finding Simba, and informs him of how Scar's irresponsibility as King of the Pride Lands is leading to the suffering of its inhabitants. Still feeling guilt over his father's death, Simba refuses to return. The wise Rafiki tracks Simba down. He summons Mufasa's ghost in the sky for Simba; the ghost tells Simba that he must return to the Pride Lands and take his place as king. Simba refuses, but as he vanishes Mufasa tells him that he is his son and the one true king, and to remember this. Simba returns to Pride Rock with Nala, Timon and Pumbaa, who all agree to help him fight. While Timon and Pumbaa distract the hyena guardians, Simba confronts Scar on Pride Rock. Scar forces Simba towards the edge of Pride Rock and reveals that he killed Mufasa. Enraged, Simba leaps back up and pins Scar, forcing Scar to confess his crime to the other lions. The truth now revealed, a 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 everything. The good-natured Simba spares Scar, but the latter betrays the younger lion's trust and attacks once again. The ensuing fight ends when Simba throws Scar off a cliff. Scar survives the fall, but is attacked and immediately killed by the hyenas, who overheard his attempt to betray them. With Scar and the hyenas gone, Simba is greeted by his mother and Nala. Simba walks up Pride Rock and remembers Mufasa, then lets out a powerful roar in which all the lionesses join. In time, Pride Rock is restored to its former glory and 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.