The Lion King: The King Has Returned
The lion king the king has returned may 2018 theatrical poster
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rob Minkoff
Roger Allers
Hony Parkins
Produced by Don Hahn
Executive produced by Jon Favreau
Don Bluth
Jeannie Roussel
Darrell Rooney
John Lasseter
George A. Mendoza
Rob LaDuca
Bradley Raymond
Narrated by Christian Myers
Starring Matthew Broderick
Jeremy Irons
Suzanne Pleshette
Peyton Elizabeth Lee
Rowan Atkinson
Moira Kelly
Ernie Sabella
Nathan Lane
Jason Marsden
Neve Campbell
Andy Dick
Sarah Hyland
Madison Pettis
Joshua Rush
Diamond White
Madge Sinclair
Robert Guillaume
Max Charles
Music by Original Score:
Hans Zimmer
Original Songs:
Elton John
Tim Rice
Beau Black
Edited by Ivan Bilancio
Peter Lonsdale
Joyce Arrastia
Production companies Walt Disney Pictures
DisneyToon Studios
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release dates 2018
Running time 327 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Lion King: The King Has Returned is an upcoming 2018 American animated epic muscial comedy-drama film released by Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Studios, as well as distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It serves a extended version of Disney's well-known animated film The Lion King, conjoining it with its sequels and spin-offs. As the film was directed by Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers and Howy Parkins, produced by Don Hahn, executive produced by Jon Favreau, Don Bluth, Jeannine Roussel, George A. Mendoza, John Lasseter, Darrell Rooney, Rob LaDuca and Bradley Raymond and written by a ensemble group of story writers, it is also the 16th film in the Disney Platinum Universe.

The film tells the story of Simba, a young lion who is to succeed his father, Mufasa, as King of the Pride Lands; however, after Simba's uncle Scar (Mufasa's jealous younger brother), tries to murder Mufasa, Simba is manipulated into thinking he was responsible and flees into exile. Now an young adult, Simba is given some valuable perspective from his childhood friend, Nala and his shaman, Rafiki, before returning to challenge Scar to end his tyranny and take his place in the Circle of Life as the rightful King. The film also follows a subplot involving a meerkat and warthog duo named Timon and Pumbaa, who search a place as their dream home with no predators via the word "Hakuna Matata" (a meaning to "No Worries"), coming across some scenes in the main plot.

Featuring a intensively score by Hans Zimmer, and songs by Elton John, Tim Rice and Beau Black, the film also includes narration by Christian Myers, and an ensemble voice cast starring Matthew Broderick as Simba, Jeremy Irons as Taka / Scar, Suzanne Pleshette as Zira, Peyton Elizabeth Lee as Rani, Rowan Atkinson as Zazu, Moira Kelly as Nala, Ernie Sabella as Pumbaa, Nathan Lane as Timon, Jason Marsden as Kovu, Neve Campbell as Kiara, Andy Dick as Nuka, Sarah Hyland as Tiifu, Madison Pettis as Zuri, Joshua Rush as Bunga, Diamond White as Fuli, with Madge Sinclair as Sarabi, with Robert Guillaume as Rafiki, and Max Charles as Kion. It also marks the last film appearance of Guillaume, who died in October 2017 as the film dedicates his memory. The film is scheduled to be released in IMAX 3D and AMC Theaters.


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In the Pride Lands of Africa, a lion rules over the animal kingdom from Pride Rock. Timon is a social outcast in his meerkat colony on the outskirts of the Pride Lands known as the "Pit of Shame". Timon is also the son of his late Pa, who was the colony's greatest meerkat, nicknamed as "Fearless Buzz". Though he is unconditionally supported by his mother Ma, Timon dreams for more in life than his colony's bleak existence hiding from predators. One day, he is assigned as a sentry, but his daydreaming nearly leads to the death of his Uncle Max by a group of spotted hyenas named Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. This marks the last straw for the colony, while Timon decides to have a date with the princess of the meerkats, Tatiana. As he takes a shower, a giant cobra breaks in and kidnaps Tatiana. As it saddens the colony, the Captain of the guards senses that Timon isn't with the other guards, and when they see Timon about to date, the guards chase after him. Timon runs into a dead end after facing the Duke, and is put on trial for abandoning his guard post. The jury finds Timon guilty for that and he is sentenced to live in banishment, cast out of the colony. Ma tries to convince his son to be back in, prompting Timon to leave to find a better life.

Timon meets Rafiki, the king's shaman, who teaches him about "Hakuna Matata" (meaning "No Worries" in Swahili) and advises him to "look beyond what you see". Timon takes the advice literally and observes Pride Rock in the distance. Believing Pride Rock to be his paradise home, Timon ventures there, but then gets lost and alone, and gasps at the sound of laughter and finds himself inside the mouth of Ed. He runs out of Ed's mouth and runs into Pumbaa, who was captured by the hyenas. Pumbaa, having been tricked, asks Timon if they invited him over for dinner too. The hyenas gang up on them, saying that they'll have a little "'kat"-nip, and then that they'll "pig" out. Timon and Pumbaa make a run for it, away from the hyenas, and they say their goodbyes and go their separate ways.

However, in the evening, while heading to Pride Rock, Timon runs into Pumbaa again, with the latter asking the former if he was going to the colony. The two quickly form a bond and Pumbaa accompanies Timon. The adventure starts to where Mufasa's newborn son, Simba is being presented. The pair arrive at Pride Rock, but as they make their way through the crowd of onlookers, Pumbaa explosively passes gas, causing nearby animals to faint but prompting animals further away to bow to Mufasa. Following this, Timon and Pumbaa start to live in the cave as Rafiki holds up Simba for the animals to bow.

Mufasa shows young Simba the Pride Lands and explains to him the responsibilities of kingship and the "circle of life" which connects all living things. Mufasa's younger brother, Scar (born as Taka), covets the throne and plots to eliminate Mufasa and Simba so he may become king. He tricks Simba and his best friend Nala — to whom Simba is betrothed — into exploring a forbidden elephants' graveyard, where they are attacked by three spotted hyenas who are in league with Scar. As Timon and Pumbaa were forced away from their dream home from Simba singing "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", they witness Mufasa saving the cubs and Zazu, the king's majordomo. Though angry with Simba, Mufasa forgives him and explains that the great kings of the past watch over them from the night sky, from which he will one day watch over Simba.

Scar sets a trap for his brother and nephew, luring Simba into a gorge and having the hyenas drive a large herd of wildebeest into a stampede that will trample him. He informs Mufasa of Simba's peril, knowing the king will rush to save him. Mufasa saves Simba but ends up hanging perilously from the gorge's edge. Scar refuses to help Mufasa, instead sending him falling to his death. As Timon and Pumbaa were also caught in the stampede, they were thrown off a waterfall. Scar then convinces Simba that the tragedy was Simba's own fault and advises him to flee the kingdom. He orders the hyenas to kill Simba, but he escapes. Scar tells the pride that Mufasa and Simba were killed in the stampede and steps forward as the new king, allowing a large pack of hyenas to live in the Pride Lands.

With the pair exhausted, Timon decides to give up, until Pumbaa discovers a luxurious green jungle. The pair finally settle there with the philosophy of "Hakuna Matata". The pair catch some bugs and put them in a bag to eat. A short while later, the silence of the jungle is broken after Timon hears Tatiana's cry for help while about to become a sacrifice for the cobra. Pumbaa feels that once Timon saves her, the warthog would be alone again, but Timon disagrees, saying that once he rescues Tatiana, Pumbaa would join the colony, and that he would no longer be an outcast. Pumbaa is overjoyed by this, and the two of them rescue Tatiana, then welcome her into their paradise. Timon and Pumbaa then encounter Simba in a nearby desert, who collapsed nearly dead from the escape of Pride Rock. The pair rescue Simba and decide to raise him under their philosophy.

A little later, the warthog and meerkat run into a buff meerkat and warthog named Pimon and Tumbaa, who have a philosophy of their own: Kahuna Potato. The duo then steal bugs founded by Simba and give Timon and Pumbaa both atomic wedgies. Timon and Pumbaa suggest to get advice from Rafiki to monkey-style kung-fu. Rafiki cuts Timon and Pumbaa's hair, puts fighting belts on them, and nicknames them "Timon-Yang" and "Pumbaa-Yin". The baboon shows the two how to fight by using bananas, making them squeeze the fruits and stirring them. After the work, Rafiki tells Timon that he's not ready, Timon tells him that he and him are ready. Timon snatches the bugs from Rafiki's hand and he and Pumbaa are ready to fight Pimon and Tumbaa to retrieve Simba. While Pimon and Tumbaa are picking on a squirrel, Timon and Pumbaa confront the bullies and fight them. After the bullies trick Timon and Pumbaa into thinking that they're seriously hurt and give Timon and Pumbaa another wedgie, Rafiki appears and tells the two friends to use Hakuna Matata to fight. Listening to Rafiki's advice, Timon and Pumbaa use their own weapons to fight the bullies. Later that night, Timon and Pumbaa decide to have Pimon and Tumbaa, with their heads shaved off, feeding them bugs.

Simba as a young adult rescues Timon and Pumbaa from a hungry lioness who turns out to be Nala. She and Simba reunite and fall in love, and she urges him to return home, telling him the Pride Lands have become a drought-stricken wasteland under Scar's reign. Feeling guilty over his father's death, Simba refuses and storms off. He encounters Rafiki, who tells him that Mufasa's spirit lives on in Simba. Simba is visited by the ghost of Mufasa in the night sky, who tells him he must take his rightful place as king. Realizing he can no longer run from his past, Simba decides to return home. Too much for Timon's horror, Nala and Rafiki explain that Simba had run off to challenge Scar, and that they need their help. Hurt that Simba left them, Timon unsuccessfully tries to persuade Pumbaa to stay, but Pumbaa follows Simba and Nala. Timon indulges in the jungle's luxuries by himself, but loneliness starts to overcome him. Rafiki appears again and helps Timon realize that his true Hakuna Matata is with the ones he loves, prompting Timon to take off after Simba, Nala and Pumbaa. Timon catches up and reconciles with Pumbaa, before they journey onward to Pride Rock. Aided by his friends, Simba sneaks past the hyenas at Pride Rock and confronts Scar. Scar taunts him over his role in Mufasa's death and backs him to the edge of the rock, where he reveals to Simba that HE murdered Mufasa. Enraged, Simba pins Scar to the ground and forces him to reveal the truth to the rest of the pride.

As Timon and Pumbaa run into Ma and Max, who came looking for him, Timon proposes that they all help Simba by getting rid of the hyenas. Timon, Pumbaa Nala, Sarabi, Zazu, and the lionesses fend off the hyenas, alongside Ma and Max, who are directed to construct a series of tunnels beneath the hyenas; Rafiki also arrives to join the fight. When the tunnels are finished, Max knocks down the sticks, breaking the ground under the hyenas. However, the last few get stuck, prompting Timon to dive underground and break them himself. The cave-in commences, and the hyenas are ejected through the tunnels. Scar, attempting to escape, is then cornered by Simba at the top of Pride Rock. Scar begs for mercy and attempts to blame the hyenas for his actions; Simba spares his life but orders him to leave the Pride Lands forever. Scar attacks his nephew, but Simba manages to toss him from the top of the rock. Scar survives the fall, but as Simba comes down to kill, Scar refuses to be healed, choosing to die a free king rather than be incarcerated; he is then killed by the hyenas, who overheard him betray them to Simba.

With his enemies gone, Simba takes over the kingship as the rains begin to fall, restoring life to the land as he looks up at the constellation of Leo. During that time though, he banished those royal lions that worked for Scar, including a red infant cub. As Simba thanked Timon and Pumbaa for helping him, Timon knew it was time to show his meerkat colony of what it's like with no predators. Later, after seeing that Tatiana is saved by Timon, the colony opens the front gate in joyous celebration. At the trial, all charges against Timon are dropped for the brave, cunning, and resourceful rescue of Tatiana, and as an added bonus, the Duke offers Timon the key to the city and Tatiana offers her hand to him in marriage. After Pumbaa reminds him, Timon asks the Duke to declare Pumbaa an official member of the colony — but the Duke says that only meerkats are allowed to live in the colony, and gives Timon a choice between anything he could ever want (power, riches and love) or being Pumbaa's friend. Timon finally decides to have Tatiana for marriage and Pumbaa for being his friend as he also decides to give up all the fancy stuff for Pumbaa. Timon then had an announcement that the colony don't have to dig tunnels or worry about predators anymore.

A couple of days later, Timon takes Ma, Max, Tatianta, the Duke and the entire colony to live in the predator-free jungle to complete his "Hakuna Matata"; and he is praised as their hero.

King Simba and Queen Nala's newborn daughter, Kiara, was presented to the assembled animals by Rafiki as Mufasa proudly watches over the ceremony from the heavens above. Kiara becomes annoyed with her father's overprotective parenting. Simba assigns Timon and Pumbaa, who come to visit him, to follow her. Kiara ignores her father's warning and the duo's attention and enters the "Outlands", where she meets a young cub, Kovu, and they escape from crocodiles while befriending each other. When Kovu retaliates to Kiara's playing, Simba confronts the young cub just as he is confronted by Zira, Kovu's mother and the Outsiders' leader. Zira reminds Simba of how he exiled her and the other Outsiders, and she reveals that Scar selected Kovu to be his successor despite not being his biological father. After returning to the Pride Lands, Nala and the rest of the pride head back to Pride Rock while Simba lectures Kiara about the danger posed by the Outsiders. He then tells her that they are a part of each other.


In a post-credits scene, Kiara helps Buddy Pine with his RLS Legacy recuperation.


  • Matthew Broderick as Simba: Son of Queen Sarabi and King Mufasa, who grows up to be the king of Pride Rock.
    • Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matt Weinberg as young Simba
  • Jeremy Irons as Taka / Scar: Mufasa's mischievous younger brother and Simba's uncle, who overtakes the throne.
  • Suzanne Pleshette as Zira: Scar's widow and the leader of exiled lion groups named "Outsiders". She is also the mother of Kovu, Nuka and Vitani.
  • Peyton Elizabeth Lee as Rani: A young lioness and the leader of the Night Pride.
  • Rowan Atkinson as Zazu: A hornbill, who is the the majordomo ("Mufasa's little stooge" as Shenzi calls him) of the Lion King and a jungle administrator. Jeff Bennett provided the rest of the character's lines.
  • Moira Kelly as Nala: Simba's best friend later wife as the queen of Pride Rock and the lead of Lora Kilaje, a group of lionesses, who serve as Simba's bodyguards.
    • Niketa Calame as young Nala
  • Ernie Sabella as Pumbaa: A naïve warthog, who suffers from flatulence and soon becomes Timon's best friend and one of Simba's best friends and adoptive parents.
  • Nathan Lane as Timon: A wise-cracking and self-absorbed yet somewhat loyal meerkat, who is the son of his Ma and Pa, nicknamed "Fearless Buzz" and becomes one of Simba's best friends and adoptive parents. Kevin Schon was a voice-double behind Lane for one of the character's lines.
    • George A. Mendoza as 15-year old Timon
  • Jason Marsden as Kovu: The younger son of Zira, who was hand-chosen by Scar to take revenge on Simba.
    • Ryan O'Donohue as young Kovu
  • Neve Campbell as Kiara: Simba and Nala's daughter and the princess of Pride Rock.
    • Michelle Horn as young Kiara
  • Andy Dick as Nuka: The older son of Zira, who is the older brother of Kovu and Vitani, and the prince of the Outlanders.
  • Lacey Chabert as Vitani: Zira's daughter and Kovu and Nuka's brother, who is the princess of the Outsiders.
  • Julie Kavner as Ma: Timon's caring mother, who is overly protective and attached to her son, often trying to get him accepted amongst the colony, but never succeeding.
  • Jerry Stiller as Uncle Max: Timon's paranoid, eccentric but deep down kind-hearted uncle.
  • Cheech Marin as Banzai: A Mexican-accented hyena and a member of Scar's chief henchmen, who first known as predators in Timon's colony.
  • Jim Cummings as Ed: A hyena and a member in Scar's clan. Cummings also provided additional voices.
  • Whoopi Goldberg as Shenzi: The leader of the hyena clan.
  • Landry Bender as Makini: A young female mandrill, who becomes Rafiki's apprentice.
  • Maia Mitchell as Jasiri: A young hyena in the Outlands, who befriends as a reluctant ally with the Lion Guard.
  • Joshua Rush as Bunga: A young honey badger, Kion's best friend, Timon and Pumbaa's adoptive nephew and the bravest member of the Lion Guard, who was taught to his phrase "Zuka Zama".
  • Diamond White as Fuli: A young cheetah, one of Kion's best friends and the fastest member of the Lion Guard.
  • Dusan Brown as Beshte: A young hippopotamus, one of Kion's best friends and the strongest member of the Lion Guard.
  • Atticus Shaffer as Ono: A young cattle egret, one of Kion's best friends and the keenest of sight of the Lion Guard.
  • Madge Sinclair as Sarabi: Simba's mother, Mufasa's wife, Kion and Kiara's grandmother and the previous queen of Pride Rock.
  • Robert Guillaume as Rafiki: A wise old mandrill and the shaman of Pride Rock ("Silly blue-bottomed baboon" as Zazu calls him), who presents the new king to the animals.
  • Max Charles as Kion: Simba and Nala's second-born son, Mufasa's grandson, Kiara's younger brother, the leader of the Lion Guard and the prince of Pride Rock.

Additionally, Gilbert Gottfried reprises his voice role as Iago from the Aladdin film series in a cameo appearance. Sarah Hyland and Madison Pettis voiced Kiara's friends Tiifu and Zuri while James Earl Jones and Zoe Leader voiced Simba's father Mufasa and Nala's mother Sarafina. Tress MacNeille voiced Tatiana, the princess of the meerkats with Jeff Bennett who voiced her father, the Duke of the colony. S. Scott Bullock voiced Timon's rival Fred. Renee Elise Goldsberry had a supporting role as Dahahbu, a golden zebra in the Back Lands.

In the film, there are a few clans of animals that work for Scar in the Outlands: The Lion Guard developer Ford Riley as Sumu, a black dangerous scorpion; Kristofer Hivju as Kenge, a monitor lizard; Andrew Kishino as Janja, the leader of his clan of hyenas; Kevin Schon and Vargus Mason as hyenas Chungu and Cheezi; Ana Gasteyer as Reieri, a jackal; Phil LaMarr as Reieri's mate Goigoi; Johnny Rees as Mzingo, a vulture; Meghan Strange as Shupavu, a red skink and the leader of the skinks; Common as Kiburi, the leader of the crocodiles; and Christian Slater as Ushari, a European cobra.

Carl Lumbly voiced Scar and Mufasa's father Ahadi. Lynette DuPree voiced Ma Tembo, a female leader of the elephants. Brian Tochi voiced a fighting hyena. Billy West and Kevin Michael Richardson voiced Pimon and Tumbaa, a buff meerkat and warthog duo, who are Timon and Pumbaa's bullies, and executive producer Bradley Raymond voiced Timon's father Pa in several flashbacks. Jason Rudofsky voiced Flinchy, a Sentry duty member in Timon's colony, and Jason Lee has an uncredited cameo reprising his role as Buddy Pine from The Incredibles in a post-credits scene.


The film is expected to be release sometime in 2018. It was originally planned to be released in summer of 2017, known as The Lion King: The Special Edition Cut. It is to be rated PG for mild rude humor, action and peril.


The lion king the king has returned original motion soundtrack cover

As the score was composed by Hans Zimmer, as well as a few of additional composers, the songs were written by Elton John, Lebo M. and Tim Rice. Elton and Lebo performed some of the songs as additional performers include Raven-Symoné, Gil Scott-Heron, Lionel Richie, Carmen Twillie, Nathan Lane, Cheech Marin, Jim Cummings, Whoopi Goldberg, Jason Weaver, Rowan Atkinson, Laura Williams, Jeremy Irons, Ernie Sabella, Sally Dworsky, Charity Sanoy, Suzanne Pleshette, Andy Dick, Robert Guillaume, Liz Callaway and Gene Miller.

The opening theme from The Lion Guard plots as the main theme for the film.

Track Listing

  1. Grazing in the Grass – Raven-Symoné
  2. The Revolution Will Be Televised – Gil Scott-Heron
  3. Still – Lionel Richie
  4. Circle of Life – Lebo M. and Carmen Twillie
  5. Diggah Tunnah Dance – Lebo M. and Vinx
  6. That's All I Need – Nathan Lane
  7. I Just Can't Wait To Be King – Rowan Atkinson, Ernie Sabella, Jason Weaver, Laura Williams and Nathan Lane
  8. The Morning Report – Jeff Bennett, James Earl Jones and Evan Saucedo
  9. Be Prepared – Jeremy Irons, Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings
  10. Zuka Zama (Zom, Zom, Zom) – Joshua Rush
  11. Hakuna Matata – Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Jason Weaver and Joeseph Williams
  12. The Lion Sleeps Tonight – Lebo M.
  13. Jungle Boogie – Drew K. and The French
  14. The Madness of King Scar – Jeremy Irons, Jeff Bennett, Jim Cummings, Whoopi Goldberg, Sally Dworsky and Cheech Marin
  15. Shadowland – Sally Dworsky
  16. A Million Dreams – Liz Callaway and Gene Miller
  17. Can You Feel the Love Tonight – Nathan Lane, Kristine Edwards, Joseph Williams, Sally Dworsky and Ernie Sabella
  18. Endless Night – Joseph Williams
  19. Busa – Lebo M.
  20. He Lives in You – Lebo M.
  21. My Lullaby – Suzanne Pleshette, Andy Dick and Crysta Macalush
  22. Upendi – Robert Guillaume
  23. We Are One – Cam Clarke and Charity Sanoy
  24. Love Will Find A Way – Gene Miller and Liz Callaway
  25. Hakuna Matata (reprise) – Ernie Sabella, Max Charles, Joshua Rush, Joseph Williams, Sally Dworsky, Kevin Schon, Charity Saony, Diamond White, Dusan Brown, Atticus Scaffer, Lynette DuPree


Critical response

The Lion King: The King Has Returned was released to critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 96%, based on 251 reviews, with an average rating of 8.5 out of 10 meaning: "The Lion King: The King Has Returned elevates superhero cinema to thrilling new heights while telling one of the Disney's most absorbing stories -- and introducing some of its most fully realized characters." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 88 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". The audience score on Rotten Tomatoes holds a rating of 98%. CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a rare "A+" grade. IMDb holds a score of 7.6/10.