The Lion King was released on June 24th, 1994 in the United States to a great reception from critics and audiences alike. The film, which was released by Walt Disney Pictures and directed by Roger Alles and Rob Minkoff, details the journey of lion cub Simba to find his identity after losing his father in a stampede. He goes to live with a warthog and meerkat and grows up learning what it means to be a true leader.
The film was rated G by the MPAA and was intended for all audiences, making it a film to be enjoyed by all ages and leaving the way for its various sequels and re-releases to be enjoyed again and again. These re-releases easily bank upon the idea that people who grew up with the film could be reminded of the film as they get older. The Lion King Franchise has been pretty extensive with various sequels and spin-offs, as well as two animated television shows, a very successful Broadway musical and a few video games. There is even a live action/CGI remake scheduled for 2019 starring Donald Glover as Simba and having James Earl Jones return as Mufasa. This live-action remake will be directed by Jon Favreau, who recently directed another one of Disney’s animated classics, “The Jungle Book,” to rousing success. That movie made over $966 million at the box office worldwide. Among other recent live-action adaptations were 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, 2016’s Pete’s Dragon or 2015’s Cinderella adaptations. Films in the works include live-action versions of Mulan, Aladdin, Dumbo and more. With the releases of these remakes many people who grew up with the films in their childhood have another chance to see the films they knew and loved, but also dome in a different manner. The production budget was about $45 million and made about $40 million on its opening weekend going to earn a total of about $22 million Domestically and $545 million Internationally(Box Office Mojo). For 1994 the film was the top G rated earner and second total overall earner for 1994 behind Forrest Gump. The Lion King Soundtrack even topped the billboard charts and sales reached numbers like the sales for the Aladdin soundtrack. Merchandising was also huge for The Lion King, like most other Disney franchises. Kids Meal toys at Burger King and McDonalds were extremely popular, Toys R Us had a wide variety of Lion King merchandise from many toy brands and hundreds of its stores and there were countless other advertising tie-ins with many popular companies so that Disney could get the Lion King advertised in almost every kind of store. 1994 was a big year for popular culture and world events. Alongside Lion King the other big movies of that year were Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption. Other things that happened that year included the release of the first Sony Playstation, the battle of Britpop between Oasis and Blur with the releases of Definitely Maybe and Parklife, the premiere of Friends, the founding of both Yahoo and Amazon, Kurt Cobain’s suicide and the O.J. Simpson murder case and trial.
So the Lion King was just another huge thing that happened in the relatively eventful year of 1994, big films, big pop culture and big news stories.