Creating The Lion King: Story development, authorship and accreditation in the Disney Renaissance | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 9, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1759-7137
  • E-ISSN: 1759-7145



The Lion King, Disney’s most lucrative property, began life as the most successful animated film to emerge from the Disney Renaissance. It was developed against a background of creative transformation and personal feuding at the studio, as Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg attempted to introduce a new, script-led method of making animated films. This article examines the accreditation given to writers in the film’s credits, Katzenberg’s claim to have originated much of the story himself, and the actual slow process of story development from first concept (1988) to finished screenplay (1993). Emphasis is placed on the original creative brief, to produce a Bambi-like film based on ‘[r]eal lion behaviour’, the first story treatment by Thomas M. Disch, the additions to that story made by later writers and directors, and the conflict between more realistic and more fantastical visions of animal behaviour that slowed the movie’s development for years. Based on collections of primary source material not in the public domain, and personal correspondence with many people involved in shaping the movie, this is the first full history of the screenplay of The Lion King.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): credit; fantasy; realism; revision; screenplay; The Lion King
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