Disney Animated Classic, ‘The Lion King,’ Might Have Actually Been Stolen From Another Animation Studio

Although Disney’s The Lion King may be a favorite amongst fans, the story seems eerily familiar to a few other projects, including one Japanese television series. Did Disney actually copy another studio for this movie of the 1990s? Here’s what we know about this award-winning animated film turned Broadway musical and photo-real adaptation.

Some think Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ shares similarities to an animated series

Disney fans know the story of The Lion King well. Simba is destined to be king of Pride Rock, even though his bitter Uncle wants the power. Simba eventually faces his Uncle, standing up for his Pride and making his late father proud. Although this struggle seems unique to Simba, some drew similarities to other stories in film and literature. 

One of the most similar includes the Japanese television series, Kimba the White Lion, which also tells the story of one lion on the journey of becoming the leader of his Pride. Since then, the co-director of The Lion King, Rob Minkoff, denied similarities, stating that he wasn’t even familiar with this series from the 1960s.

“For copyright infringement, we look at a few different things. We look at similarities in terms of the storyline, the plot and the characters; the more similar the second-comer is to the original details of the storyline or plot or particular character personalities and depictions, then we start to cross over into infringement,” Madhavi Sunder, a professor at Georgetown Law, said during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter

“In addition, in the case of the animation here, the strongest evidence is that the actual drawings depicting several scenes are strikingly similar between Kimba and The Lion King,” Madhavi Sunder continued.

Disney Junior's 'The Lion Guard'
Disney Junior’s ‘The Lion Guard’ | Disney Junior via Getty Images

The story of ‘The Lion King’ is actually a similar story to one of Shakespeare’s plays

The Lion King has been seen before by a few other works of literature, in fact. Although it wasn’t exactly directed towards children, Shakespeare’s Hamlet told a similar story of a prince whose father dies at the hand of his uncle. The hero then avenges his father by killing his uncle and assuming the throne.

One of the main differences between these two works, although they are both performed live, is that The Lion King is a musical. The most recent adaptation even includes Golden Globe-nominated songs created by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, who voices Nala in the photo-real version.

Disney Junior's 'The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar'
Disney Junior’s ‘The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar’ | Disney Junior via Getty Images

Disney since created a live-action version of their animated classic

Since its premiere, The Lion King proved to be one of the most successful Disney films. The company even expanded on their original version of The Lion King, creating multiple sequels for the film, a Broadway musical, and a photo-real adaptation, released in 2019. 

This new version featured the voice acting of Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, and even original cast member, James Earl-Jones. Fans can watch both versions of Disney’s The Lion King on the company’s streaming platform, Disney+. To learn more about Disney’s subscription service, visit their website. 

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