'The Lion King' Cut Academy Award-Winning Song 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight' Until Elton John Intervened
The Lion King is arguably one of Disney‘s best works. For 25 years, the animation has been entertaining audiences globally without fail. From its incredible cast throughout the years to its lineup of hit songs that not only top charts but also remain a classic to different generations, The Lion King seems to hit all the right spots. Interestingly, one aspect of the hit film almost didn’t make it to the final film. The Lion King cut the Academy Award-winning song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” until Elton John intervened. Find out why.
The film almost had a different title
Watching every remake of The Lion King brings back feelings of nostalgia for anyone who’s ever watched the original film from 1992. The original voice cast included A-listers like James Earl Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Matthew Broderick, and Rowan Atkinson, telling a story about love and overcoming hardship. The animated film was a hit from the get-go earning almost $1 billion, making it the highest-grossing animated movie of all time when it was released.
Although fans today know the film by its name, it almost sounded different. Mental Floss reports that Disney went through several names before the creative team landed on its iconic name today. The film’s producer Don Hahn said, “when I first started work on The Lion King, the movie was called King of The Jungle.”
Hahn mentioned that the working title was a metaphor for a “story about human behavior.” The producer noted that the reasoning at the time was that the animals lived in a jungle that Simba had to survive in but later realized that there was no jungle in the story but a savannah.
He continued to note that when they threw out the jungle storyline and instead detailed the life of “a lion king,” they realized the film would be better off going with The Lion King. Another name that was thrown around for the title of the hit animation was The King of the Kalahari.
Elton John had significant involvement in the film
The song that plays during the credits, ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight‘ is one of the things that makes The Lion King iconic. The music was composed by none other than Elton John and Tim Rice. When writing for Disney, John demanded that one of the songs in the film should be a love ballad that had the potential to cross over and become a radio hit. The ballad became ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight.’
A few weeks before the film premiered to the rest of the world, John was given a special screening. The musician saw that the producers had left out the love song and successfully lobbied Jeffrey Katzenberg to put the song back in the movie. ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’ went on to snag a Grammy award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
A comic version of the song was recorded but never used
The Lion King cut out several aspects of the film, including some characters the studio thought were excesses and even some dialogue. For instance, Simba’s father Mufasa was supposed to sing ‘To Be King’, but the producers felt that the song didn’t suit Jones’ singing voice and threw out the entire concept.
According to IMDb, a comic version of ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’, to be sung by Timon and Pumbaa, was storyboarded and recorded. However, the producers decided against using it and eventually tossed it out.
John and fellow composer Rice were shocked to learn that the producers had initially wanted the love ballad to be a duet between Timon and Pumbaa. The two animals eventually sang the song but only in its final verse.
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