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Disney Planning "Lion King" Pre-Schooler Series "The Lion Guard"

The Wall Street Journal reports that Disney Junior is developing a new TV series based on 1994′s hit movie The Lion King. Titled The Lion Guard, the new show is scheduled to debut in November 2015 and will center on Kion, the son of The Lion King’s Simba. Kion will be the leader of a group of animals dedicated to protecting the jungle prideland, forming the group named in the title of the show. Disney Junior general manager described the show as, “kind of like ‘The Lion King’ meets ‘The Avengers.’” The show originated from a suggestion from Disney CEO Robert Iger to produce new content for the 20th anniversary of the original movie.

(via TZ staffer Tommy Lawson)

UPDATED: The official press release announcement of the series is below:


DISNEY BEGINS PRODUCTION ON “THE LION GUARD,” AN ANIMATED
DISNEY JUNIOR TV MOVIE AND SERIES INSPIRED BY “THE LION KING”

Disney Television Animation has begun production on “The Lion Guard,” an animated television movie and series that continues the story introduced 20 years ago in the acclaimed Disney animated film “The Lion King.” Geared towards kids age 2-7 and their families, “The Lion Guard” television movie will premiere in Fall 2015, and the subsequent series will debut in early 2016 on Disney Junior and Disney Channel.

The wildlife education experts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park will serve as consultants on “The Lion Guard” stories, which will incorporate themes of conservation, family and community while also highlighting problem-solving, creative thinking and diversity. Author and Swahili expert Sarah Mirza is the language and cultural advisor.

Nancy Kanter, Executive Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide, said, “The story of ‘The Lion King’ has deeply touched families around the world since its original theatrical release 20 years ago. We look forward to introducing a whole new generation of kids to both the Disney legacy characters and to new friends and heroes.”

“The Lion Guard” begins as Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala, assumes the role of leader of the Lion Guard, a group of the bravest and brightest tasked with preserving the Pride Lands. Instead of assembling a team of young lions to serve with him, Kion challenges tradition by calling upon friends he believes are the best choices – Bunga, a fearless honey badger; Fuli, a confident cheetah; Beshte, a happy-go-lucky hippo; and Ono, an intellectual egret. Stories will include special appearances by Mufasa, Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki, Zazu and Kion’s older sister, Kiara, the future Queen of the Pride Lands.

“The Lion Guard” movie and series were developed by Ford Riley (“Special Agent Oso”), who also serves as executive producer. Howy Parkins (“Jake and the Never Land Pirates”) is director. Christopher Willis (“Mickey Mouse”) is the composer.

Originally released in June 1994, the Academy Award-winning animated film “The Lion King” is a Disney story with long-lasting appeal and creative interpretations across multiple Disney businesses.

The lifetime global box office total for “The Lion King” is $987.4 million; its 2011 3D re-release was #1 for its first two weeks; its Grammy Award-winning soundtrack sold over 14 million units; a Tony Award-winning musical, now in its 17th year on Broadway and with 10 productions in eight languages currently running worldwide, has been seen by over 70 million people around the globe and is the highest-grossing Broadway production in history. The North American tour and the Broadway show each surpassed $1 billion in ticket sales while global ticket sales surpassed $5 billion worldwide (from 22 productions). The Lion King is one of the biggest home entertainment titles of all time, and the direct-to-video release of “Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride” is one of the best-selling direct-to-video releases of all time. “The Lion King” franchise also includes 85 episodes of the Emmy Award-winning animated television series “The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa” and popular attractions at Disney Parks and Resorts. Twenty years since the film’s release, “The Lion King” also continues to resonate with millions of fans who connect with the enduring story and timeless characters through a wide range of products, including nursery décor, bedding and junior fashion.

Marking the animated film’s 20th anniversary, a special edition of the soundtrack exploring the stories behind the songs will be released June 24 as part of Walt Disney Records’ Legacy Collection. An electronic dance music version of “Circle of Life,” by music producer/composer/DJ Mat Zo, is on the recently released DCONSTRUCTED, a collection of EDM remixes of classic Disney songs.

In its first year reporting public ratings, the 24-hour Disney Junior channel ranked as the #1 preschooler-dedicated TV network in Total Day in Total Viewers, among Kids 2-5, Girls 2-5 and Boys 2-5 and Women 18-49, towering over Nick Jr. by double digits and Sprout by triple digits. Disney Junior, the daily programming block for kids age 2-7 on Disney Channel, is home to the top two telecasts in cable TV history among Kids 2-5, Girls 2-5 and the #2 preschool cable TV telecast ever in Total Viewers, Adults 18-49 and Women 18-49 — “Sofia the First: The Floating Palace” and “Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess.” The animated series “Sofia the First” ranked as 2013′s #1 TV series in Girls 2-5 and cable TV’s #2 series in Kids 2-5 and accounted for five of cable TV’s Top 10 telecasts of the year in Kids 2-5, and 17 of the Top 20 TV telecasts in Girls 2-5. 2014 to-date, “Sheriff Callie’s Wild West,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and “Sofia the First” are the Top 3 series across all preschooler-dedicated TV channels in Total Viewers, Kids 2-5, Boys 2-5 and Women 18-49 (order varies per demo).

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