The Lion King III (Johnsonverse)

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The Lion King III poster.png
Genre: Musical
Photography: Color
Running Time: 115 minutes
Release Date: July 9, 2019 (Hollywood)
July 19, 2019 (worldwide)
Production Companies: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by: Tim Johnson
Written by: Tim Johnson
Produced by: Don Hahn
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Starring: Neve Campbell
Jason Marsden
Donald Glover
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
Lacey Chabert
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Matthew Broderick
Moira Kelly
Nathan Lane
Ernie Sabella
Rowan Atkinson
Robert Guillaume
Whoopi Goldberg
Cheech Marin
Jim Cummings
J. D. McCrary
Fiona Riley
Savannah Smith
Rachel Crow
John Oliver
Seth Rogen
Billy Eichner
Fátima Ptacek
Sophie Reynolds
Jeremy Irons
Keanu Reeves
Tommy Chong
John Kani
Alfre Woodard
Kyle Tristan
Florence Kasumba
Keegan Michael-Key
Eric André
Julie Kavner
Jerry Stiller
Max Charles
James Earl Jones
Language: English
Country: United States
Photography: Color
Budget: $260 million
Box office: $1.657 billion
Previous film: The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride (1998; chronologically)
The Lion King 1 1/2 (2004; release date)

The Lion King III (not to be confused with The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata, the title of The Lion King 1 1/2 in some regions) is a 2019 American traditionally animated musical film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the third sequel to the 1994 film The Lion King, and stars the voices of Neve Campbell, Jason Marsden, Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Lacey Chabert, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew Broderick, Moira Kelly, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Rowan Atkinson, Robert Guillaume, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, Jim Cummings, Fiona Riley, Savannah Smith, Rachel Crow, John Oliver, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Fátima Ptacek, Sophie Reynolds, Jeremy Irons, Keanu Reeves, Tommy Chong, John Kani, Alfre Woodard, Kyle Tristan, Florence Kasumba, Keegan Michael-Key, Eric André, Julie Kavner, Jerry Stiller (in his final role before his 2020 death), Max Charles, and James Earl Jones. The film was written and directed by Tim Johnson, and produced by Don Hahn. Its original songs were written by composer Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice, with a score by Hans Zimmer. According to Johnson, the film's premise was inspired by the play Henry V by William Shakespeare.

The Lion King III tells the story of Kiara and Kovu, eight years after the events of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride and the ending of spin-off series The Lion Guard, who have a son named Kusudi (Swahili for "purpose"), who's set to become King of the Pridelands one day, fighting against a cult of crazed lions led by Azizi, who plans to take over the Pridelands to avenge both Scar and Zira. They rally Vitani's Lion Guard and Kion's pride, plus Scar's old hyena allies and the spirit of the deceased king Kopa, to assist in the fighting.

The film was theatrically released in the United States on July 19, 2019. It has grossed over $1.6 billion worldwide. It surpassed Frozen to become the highest-grossing animated film of all time until the director's cut of The Thief and the Cobbler surpassed it. It is also the third highest-grossing film of 2019, and the eighth-highest of all-time. It received positive reviews from critics, who praised its voice acting, animation, and storyline, and is widely considered to be the best film in the Lion King franchise.


Eight years after the events of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, groups of animals are summoned to Pride Rock to witness the coronation of Kiara and Kovu's son Kusudi. Rafiki holds up Kusudi as the spirit of Simba looks on, and Timon and Pumbaa

Voice cast

  • Neve Campbell as Kiara
    • Kiara is the daughter of Simba and Nala.
  • Jason Marsden as Kovu
    • Kovu is Kiara's mate, and Scar's adopted son. He is
  • Donald Glover as Kusudi
    • Kusudi is the son of
      • J. D. McCrary as young Kusudi
  • Keanu Reeves as Kion
    • Kion is the leader of his own pride. He is the son of Simba.
      • Max Charles as young Kion (flashbacks; both new audio and archive audio from The Lion Guard); Seth MacFarlane as Kion's singing voice
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor as Azizi
  • Matthew Broderick as Simba
    • Having passed away a few years prior, Simba still gives advice to his daughter and son-in-law, and his grandson as a spirit in the clouds.
      • Cam Clarke as Simba's singing voice



On September 28, 2016, Walt Disney Pictures and Johnson Studios confirmed that Tim Johnson would direct a third Lion King installment (a photorealistic CGI remake of the original film was proposed instead, but was rejected by Tim). It was also announced that the film would be traditionally animated like the three prior films.


Many of the film's original cast members reprised their roles, as well as some returning from the sequel, midquel, and The Lion Guard. On May 1, 2018, Chiwetel Ejiofor was confirmed to voice Azizi. On June 9, Donald Glover was announced to voice adult Kusudi. Mirroring how Pixar had done with actors Paul Newman as Doc Hudson and Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head in Cars 3 and Toy Story 4, respectively, Disney took previously-unused voice clips and takes of the late Robert Guillaume (either from the movies, video games, or the Timon & Pumbaa television series) to construct a new performance for Rafiki, with permission from Guillaume's estate. Keanu Reeves voices adult Kion.



Like the first film, Hans Zimmer returned to compose the soundtrack. Elton John was brought in to write three new songs for the film.


The Lion King III premiered in Hollywood on July 9, 2019 (coincidentally on Tim's 24th birthday). The film was theatrically released in the United States on July 19, 2019, after a theatrical 3D re-release of all three prior Lion King films, including the Ultimate Edition of the second film. The film began its international rollout a week before its domestic release, starting with July 12 in South China.

Home media

The Lion King III was released on Digital HD on October 11, 2019 and on DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray on October 22, 2019.


Box office

The Lion King III has grossed $543.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $1.113 billion in other territories, for a worldwide total of $1.656 billion.

The film had a global debut of $446 million, the ninth largest of all-time and the biggest opening for an animated film. On July 30, 2019, the film grossed $1 billion, becoming the 42nd film to ever reach the milestone, as well as fastest animated film to gross $1 billion, doing so in 21 days, surpassing Incredibles 2 (46 days). The Lion King III is the second highest-grossing animated film of all time, the highest-grossing musical film of all time, the highest-grossing sequel film of all time, the highest-grossing Walt Disney Pictures film of all time, the highest-grossing film of Johnson's career, the third highest-grossing film of 2019, and the 8th highest-grossing film of all-time.

United States and Canada

Beginning on June 24, 2019 (which marked the 25th anniversary of the release of the original film), in its first 24 hours of pre-sales, The Lion King III became the second-best pre-seller of 2019 on Fandango in that frame (behind Avengers: Endgame), while Atom Tickets reported it was their best-ever first-day sales for a family film. Three weeks prior to its release, industry tracking projected the film would gross $150–170 million in its domestic opening weekend. By the week of its release, estimates had the film debuting to as much as $180 million from 4,725 theaters, beating Avengers: Endgame's record of 4,662. The film made $77.9 million on its first day, including $23 million from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $191.8 million over the weekend, the highest opening total of the Disney animated films (beating Frozen's $1.281 million), a July release (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2's $169.2 million) and Johnson's career (the Beauty and the Beast remake's $174.8 million). The film had a slightly higher-than-expected drop of 60% in its second weekend, but still topped the box office with $76.6 million. It was dethroned by newcomer Hobbs & Shaw in its third weekend but still grossed $38.5 million, crossing the $400 million mark in the process. On August 21, the movie become the second animated film to have grossed $500 million at North America box office, after Incredibles 2.

Other territories

The film was expected to gross around $450 million over its first 10 days of a global release, including $160–170 million from its worldwide opening weekend. In China, where it released a week prior to the rest of the world, the film was projected to debut to $50–60 million. It ended up opening to $54.2 million. Over its first 8 days of global release, the film made a total of 751 million, including $351.8 million from overseas territories. This included $269.4 million from its opening weekend (sans South China), with its largest countries being the United Kingdom, Ireland and Malta ($20.8 million), France ($19.6 million), Mexico ($18.7 million), Brazil ($17.9 million), South Korea ($17.7 million), Australia ($17.1 million) and Russia ($16.7 million, second-largest ever in the country), as well as $6 million in the Netherlands, the best opening of a film ever in the country. As of September 16, 2019, the film's top 10 largest markets were South China ($120.4 million), the United Kingdom, Ireland and Malta ($91.3 million), France ($79 million), Brazil ($69.1 million, second-highest all-time in the country), the Japanese isles ($60 million), Germany ($53.8 million), Mexico ($51.8 million), Russia ($47.3 million), Australia ($42.8 million), and Italy ($40 million). The film became the first animated and musical film to gross $1 billion at the overseas box office.

As of September 2019, the film became the highest-grossing film of all time in the Netherlands ($30.2 million), surpassing the previous record held by Titanic ($28.5 million including re-release) and South Africa (R107.6 million, $7.29 million), surpassing Black Panther in local currency terms (in dollar terms, is still second highest of all time). Meanwhile, the film became the highest-grossing films of 2019 in many other countries and regions: Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg, Bulgaria, France, Algeria, Monaco, Morocco and Tunisia, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal and Angola, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain. It is also the highest-grossing foreign film of 2019 in Poland. In India, the film grossed $26.3 million, making it the fourth highest-grossing Hollywood or foreign films of all time, highest-grossing animated film of all-time (both local and foreign films), and one of top 50 highest-grossing films of all time in India. In Europe, Middle East, and Africa the film surpassed Avengers: Endgame to become the fourth highest-grossing film of all time and highest-grossing film of 2019 across the region.

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 100% for both critics and audiences. Its critic consensus reads, "With an amazing cast and equally impressive animation, The Lion King III is sure to be an enjoyable thrill ride for children and adults alike, on top of being a film even better than its predecessors". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 100/100, indicating "universal acclaim". Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the film "Two Thumbs Up" on Siskel & Ebert.