'Lion King' Sequel Series Coming to Disney Junior

Lion King - Movie Still: animals dancing in front of moon - H - 1994
Walt Disney

Disney Junior is bringing The Lion King to TV.

The younger-skewing cable network has ordered The Lion Guard, an animated sequel TV movie and series geared toward kids age 2-7 and their families, the cabler announced Tuesday.

The Lion Guard will start as an animated TV movie and bow in fall 2015, with the subsequent series set for an early 2016 debut on Disney Junior and Disney Channel.

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.

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The voice cast has not yet been announced, though wildlife education experts at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park will serve as consultants on the telepic and series, which will include conservation themes. Author and Swahili expert Sarah Mirza will serve as the language and cultural adviser. The Lion Guard was developed by Ford Riley (Special Agent Oso), who will exec produce. Howy Parkins (Jake and the Never Land Pirates) will direct, while Christopher Willis (Mickey Mouse) will serve as the composer.

Released in 1994, The Lion King won Oscars for original song (Elton John's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and music (for Hans Zimmer's score). It has grossed $987.4 million globally, with a Grammy-winning soundtrack selling more than 15 million units. The Broadway theatrical adaptation took home the Tony for best musical and is in its 17th year on the Great White Way, with 10 productions in eight languages running worldwide. More than 70 million people have seen the play, which ranks as the highest-grossing Broadway production in history. To celebrate the movie's 20th anniversary, a special edition of the soundtrack exploring the stories behind the songs will bow June 24.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
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