The “Lion King” is ready to roar again — on television this time. The AP reports that the lucrative Disney property, which has made a huge splash both on the big screen and on stage — not to mention home video — is about to establish a foothold on the small screen.
A new movie, “The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar,” will premiere on Disney Channel this Sunday (7 p.m. ET) and will move to Disney on-demand platforms Monday. Meanwhile, Disney Junior is readying a series, “The Lion Guard,” to premiere in January.
The franchise launched by the 1994 animated feature has already yielded a number of follow-ups, including the home video releases “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride” (1998) and “The Lion King 1-1/2” (2004); a CBS cartoon series, “The Lion King’s Timon & Pumbaa,” which aired for three seasons (1995-1998); a long-running Broadway musical; and several video games.
Writer-producer Ford Riley has built the new incarnation of the franchise around a new cub, Kion, younger brother of Kiara.
Said Riley: “I’ve got two kids, and it seems like in storytelling the second-born never gets a really good job. So I was eager to tell his story for the TV series and make him the hero.”
Kion is appointed the protector of his family’s African savannah “Pride Lands,” tasked with building a security force that includes a varied crew of jungle animals.
“While honoring the original film’s ‘epic storytelling,’ Riley said, the new project also carries ‘a definite message of diversity with these different animals learning how to work together,'” the story notes.
The TV series will be aimed at the Disney Junior target audience of kids 2-7, while the TV movie targets a general family audience.