Disney Africa celebrates 30 years of ‘The Lion King’ with events across SA

Disney's ‘The Lion King’. Picture: Disney Junior.

Disney's ‘The Lion King’. Picture: Disney Junior.

Published Jun 26, 2024


THIS year marks the 30th anniversary of Disney’s “The Lion King” and The Walt Disney Company Africa is gearing up to commemorate this milestone in grand style across South Africa.

The film, which first hit South African audiences in 1994 with its epic tale of Simba, a young lion cub destined to reclaim his throne, continues to resonate deeply in the hearts of viewers.

“The Lion King's” journey in South Africa began with its release in both English and Zulu, capturing the imaginations of a nation. It remains the highest-attended animated film of all time in the country.

Over the years, the legacy of “The Lion King” expanded beyond the silver screen to include a critically acclaimed Broadway musical in 1997.

Directed by Julie Taymor and featuring South African talent, the production set records during its run in South Africa in 2007.

The story continued with two sequels, “The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride” (2001) and “The Lion King 1½” (2004) and the popular animated series, “The Lion Guard”, which aired on Disney Junior and SABC 1.

In 2019, the groundbreaking live-action adaptation, directed by Jon Favreau and featuring esteemed South African actor Dr John Kani as Rafiki, became the highest grossing film of all time in South Africa.

Christine Service, Senior Vice President and General Manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa, said: “For 30 years, South African’s have contributed to the ongoing legacy of ”The Lion King“ through the talent featured in front and behind the screens, scenes and stages.

“We are excited to be marking this milestone by acknowledging that contribution as well as further celebrating the creativity, storytelling excellence and emotional connection South Africans have to this beloved story through exciting and engaging local activities.”

Featuring the voices of JD McCrary as Young Simba and Shahadi Wright Joseph as Young Nala, Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ is directed by Jon Favreau. Picture: Disney.

To honour this iconic film, Disney Africa has partnered with Nedbank and MTN to launch a series of local activities.

These include a Tribute Concert featuring the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, a capsule fashion collection inspired by “The Lion King” and a special theatrical production for children in Johannesburg.

Additionally, a unique screening programme of “The Lion King” in Zulu and exclusive product ranges will be available for South African families.

The culmination of celebrations will continue with the release of “Mufasa: The Lion King” in December 2024, featuring local voice artists and additional performances by Lebo M. This cinematic event promises to reignite the magic of “The Lion King” for audiences nationwide.

As part of the festivities, e.tv and eMovies will host an exclusive broadcast festival in August, showcasing “The Lion King” trilogy and allowing fans to relive the story's iconic moments.