The Lion King is now available as a Walt Disney Signature Release Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD. This release features the classic 1994 film that we all know and enjoy, a handful of new bonus features and many bonus features from the previous two DVD releases. I am sure you all know the story of the Lion King and have seen it numerous times so no plot summary is needed. It is always fun to revisit an “old friend” and watch the film again.
There are a handful of new bonus features on this release. I would have liked to have seen more as I felt these were on the short side and add only slightly to the release.
I really enjoyed the Inside the Story Room set. This set of five sessions totaling just over 20 minutes showcases storyboard pitches of several scenes including the Circle of Life, Hakuna Matata, Rafiki and the Reflecting Pool. It gives you a glimpse at the creative process and immense about of planning and discussions that take place as these films are created. There is a nearly five minute piece showcasing some of the recording sessions. These are always fun to watch.
There is a 7 minute “Extended” conversation with Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, and Tom Schumacher. I thought this was interesting but I would not call seven minutes extended, it felt short and a bit awkward with the editing.
Rounding out the new material is Visualizing a Villain which is a performance by David Garibaldi as he paints a portrait of Scar. “Be Prepared” is played and there are dancers. It was an odd piece. I would have liked to have seen more of a retrospective on the impact the film has had in the 23 years since its release. Maybe a deeper look at the Broadway show or the theme parks too.
Almost all the bonus feature content from previous releases is available digitally. But I am having trouble finding a lot of it in DisneyMoviesAnywhere. Also on DisneyMoviesAnywhere they do a poor job of grouping the bonus features. Simple things like a play all for the Story Room series that is available on the disc is not digitally so you have to fish them out to watch them and they are not all next to each other.
Also included in the box are a couple frames on a filmstrip of Rafiki presenting Simba from Pride Rock. These reproductions are a nice little extra in the box.
If you are like me you already own several copies of this film. It seemed almost every household purchased the original VHS offering back in the 90s.. they sold over 30 million copies, over 4 million on the first day., which set several records. In 2003 the Platinum Edition was released on DVD and then in 2011 a Diamond edition on Blu-ray was added including 3D and a digital copy. There was also a laserdisc release. So the real question is does this release deliver enough new material to justify another purchase. That is a tough call. If you do not own, or cannot find your other versions, or have no device to play a previous release, this is a worthy addition to your library. If you are going digital having the classic and new bonus features on Digital HD is a great plus. I would be hard pressed to say this is a must have if you already have the Diamond Edition and are not interested in digital or the couple new featurettes.