The Lion Guard, Disney’s sequel to the $987 million-grossing The Lion King, has begun production under the aegis of Disney Television Animation, the company announced this morning. Aimed at youngsters and families, the made-for-TV movie is expected to premiere in fall 2015, with spin-off series planned for early 2016 on Disney Junior and Disney Channel.
The 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.
Few if any entertainment brands can match The Lion King, which has grossed $987.4 million globally since its release two decades ago. The Tony Award-winning musical is the highest grossing Broadway production in history, with the North American tour and the Broadway show each surpassing $1 billion in ticket sales and global ticket sales surpassing $5 billion worldwide from 22 productions.
The franchise also includes 85 episodes of the Emmy Award-winning animated television series The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa and attractions at Disney Parks and Resorts.
“The story of The Lion King has deeply touched families around the world,” said Nancy Kanter, Executive Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide. “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 goes the Way of All Disney Heroes, challenging tradition by calling on a multi-species group of friends: 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 stories will incorporate themes of conservation, family and community while also highlighting problem-solving, creative thinking and diversity.