From the now-iconic opening note of that incredible beginning sequence, viewers of The Lion King knew they were in for a very special treat: A Disney animated movie that — thanks to its compelling story about the circle of life, an all-star voice cast that included Jeremy Irons, Matthew Broderick, and James Earl Jones, and that music — would appeal to adults just as much as the kids that begged their parents to take them to theaters.
The Lion King followed Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin in an era that came to be known as the Disney Renaissance. But, The Lion King was the first Disney animated movie that was an entirely original work — not directly based on any previous story. As the legend goes, the Disney team wasn’t originally too sure about Simba. Production began at the same time as work on Pocahontas, which was considered to be the more successful project. The animators and behind-the-scenes team had a change of heart when they saw the opening footage cut together. In fact, it was then decided that for the first time for a Disney movie, the original trailer would just be a full scene from the film.