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'The Lion Guard': Disney moves to the small screen for new 'Lion King' sequel

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Walt Disney Productions

(Read caption) 'The Lion King' features voice work by Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, and Ernie Sabella.

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Disney is going back to Pride Rock. 

A TV film titled “The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar,” set in the world of the Disney movie "The Lion King," will reportedly air on the Disney Channel in November. It will include the voices of James Earl Jones, who voiced protagonist Simba’s father Mufasa in “The Lion King,” and Ernie Sabella, who voiced Simba’s friend Pumbaa. 

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The film will center on Kion, a cub of Simba and his wife Nala. Rob Lowe of “Parks and Recreation” will voice Simba this time around, while “Being Mary Jane” actress Gabrielle Union will provide the voice of Nala.

A TV series titled “The Lion Guard” will then follow on the Disney Junior channel sometime in 2016.

This move continues Disney’s strategy of stretching their stories across multiple entertainment platforms, one that Disney embraced early in the “Lion King” franchise. The company released a direct-to-video “Lion King” sequel, “The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride,” and another DTV “Lion” tale, “The Lion King 1 ½,” featuring Timon and Pumba, followed by a TV show titled “Timon & Pumbaa” in the 1990s. 

The strategy worked, and Disney has continued to follow it.

Disney is following its 1953 animated movie version of the J.M. Barrie story “Peter Pan” with a TV program, titled “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” about a group of children who are pirates on Never Land and contend with “Pan” villain Captain Hook. “Pan” characters like Peter himself, Tinkerbell, and the Darling children have appeared on the program. 

Similarly, Disney’s hit show “Sofia the First” centers on a new character, Sofia, but features appearances by various famous Disney princesses like Belle of “Beauty and the Beast” and Ariel of “The Little Mermaid.”

The company is making this work for new movies as well – a TV series based on the 2002 movie “Lilo & Stitch” aired for several years on the Disney Channel and a TV series based on the 2010 Disney movie “Tangled” will reportedly air on the Disney Channel starting in 2017.