Disney’s 1994 smash hit “The Lion King” is considered to be one of the best animated movies of all time with its outstanding cast and excellent Academy Award winning music from Elton John and Hans Zimmer.
Not only was it turned into a hit Broadway show, but Disney made a decision to remake the classic animated tale and it made over $500 million worldwide in its first weekend at the box office.
But did Disney plagiarize “The Lion King” from a Japanese cartoonist back in the early 1990s.
Coming off of directing the “live-action” remake of “The Jungle Book” for Disney, the studio brought Jon Favreau back to remake “The Lion King” in an aggressively similar way.
2019’s “The Lion King” features James Earl Jones reprising his same role as Mufasa, it also features a slew of musicians and actors like Seth Rogen, Donald Glover, Beyonce, Billy Eichner, John Oliver and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Albeit gorgeous, most fans and critics thought it was hollow and lacked the soul of the 1994 original classic.
But “original” might be the operative word there because there is proof that Disney plagiarized the work of a Japanese cartoonist named Osamu Tezuka.
A Japanese anime television show that ran from 1965-1967 called “Kimba the White Lion” isn’t just remarkably similar to Disney’s “The Lion King,” one could argue it’s exact in some places in its writing and animation. Disney has categorically denied the accusations in the past but the facts beg to differ.
Like “The Lion King,” it tells the story of a young cub, born on a ship after hunters trapped his mother and killed his father. After a storm wrecks the ship and kills everyone on board, Kimba is forced to swim to dry land and find a new home. The lion’s share of the series follows him growing up in the jungle with his mismatched friends and learning how to become a true leader like his father.
Madhavi Sunder, a law professor at Georgetown Law and author of the 2012 book “From Goods to a Good Life: Intellectual Property and Global Justice,” wrote, “Nearly every animal character in Kimba the White Lion has an analogue in the Lion King, In both versions a baboon serves as an old sage, the henchmen for the evil lion are hyenas, and the hero lion’s adviser is a parrot.”
Sunder also compared major plot points of both The “Lion King” and “Kimba the White Lion” which seem to mirror one another to an uncomfortable degree, and ends her list saying “most importantly, there are several scenes of nearly identical cinematic and artistic expression in the films.”
Here’s a video that sums up exactly how identical both of these works are.
Here’s another suspicious thing. Tezuka died in 1989 just five years before “The Lion King” hit theaters. The reason why that’s suspicious is because many animated films, even back then, take upwards of five years from start to hitting theaters. It’s almost as if they were just waiting for him to pass away until they allegedly stole his work.
Also, a South African musician named Solomon Linda composed the hit ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight,’ and “received virtually nothing” until a journalist from Rolling Stone uncovered the truth in 2000 and exposed “the sordid history of exploitation of Lindas’s copyright.”