The Lion King:
Signature Collection Edition

Release Date: August 29, 2017 (Signature Collection)
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Moira Kelly, Niketa Calame, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Jeremy Irons, Rowan Atkinson, James Earl Jones, Robert Guillaume
Director: Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff
Studio: Walt Disney Feature Animation
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Extra Feature Rating:  ★★★☆☆
Review Spoilers: N/A
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It has been six years since The Lion King was last released by Disney and it’s finally being brought out of the vault once again! This film has easily been my most anticipated addition to the Signature Collection. The Lion King was one of the most definitive films of my childhood. I can remember all the lyrics to all of the songs and I even remember the frustration of the tie-in Sega Genesis game. The Lion King is the first movie I really remember seeing in theatres – and we saw it at least three times!

Funny enough, though, since seeing it in theatres I’ve only ever watched The Lion King on VHS. I somehow missed out on the previous disc-based releases. Now, thanks to the Signature Collection, I can finally get with the times and experience the film in three different formats: DVD, blu-ray, and digital HD. (Sadly, the 3D blu-ray seems forever lost to the long out-of-date Diamond Edition release.)

I’m not going to spend any time really reviewing The Lion King because at this point I’m sure anyone and everyone reading this review has seen it. I mean, there are very few Disney films as iconic and ubiquitous as this one. Even now there’s a sequel series being released regularly on the Disney Channel, The Lion Guard.

But I will say that this Signature Collection release is definitely a must-buy for anyone who missed out on the Diamond Edition. You’ve now got the chance to not only relive the classic animated film that had you singing “I just can’t wait to be king!” and taught you that Hakuna Matata means “no worries.” Plus if you’ve got kids who have never had the chance to see the actual film it’s the perfect time to get them acquainted with Simba, Timon, Pumbaa, and the rest.

I’m not a huge ‘collector’ when it comes to movies and such but The Signature Edition comes with a pretty cool physical bonus item. It includes a limited edition reproduction of some of the original frames from the movie. The frames we received show Rafiki raising Simbi high above Pride Rock. Whether these are the same frames everyone receives we don’t know. We’ll may need to wait until the blu-ray edition is officially released to find out for sure.

Special Features

One thing that’s been true about all the Disney re-releases is that they do their best to include as many of the special features from older releases as possible. These have so far been included on the actual blu-ray discs. The Lion King, however, marks the first time that they are NOT on the disc but available only online through your online Disney Movies Anywhere collection. I’m a huge fan of building your digital Disney collection but I’m not sure how I feel about the classic special features only being available online.

Still, there are a fair number special features available on the actual blu-ray disc with this release.

The Lion King: Signature Collection lacks any over-all behind-the-scenes or making-of featurette mostly likely because they were included on earlier editions (and thus can be found through Disney Movies Anywhere). Instead the Signature Collection release focuses on shorter special features that may not have been seen before. Among them are Visualizing A Villain – a video of performance painter David Garibaldi and a group of dancers performing to “Be Prepared,” an extended version of a conversation with actors Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, and an audio Commentary – and more!

The Recording Sessions
This is a really cool five minute featurette. It includes videos of the original cast in the recording studio as they read various lines for the film. The actors are seen in the corners of the screen while the scenes play out around them. The video quality isn’t the best for some of the recordings but regardless I thought this was a neat little featurette to include.

Inside the Story Room
A lot of the Signature Collection releases have been including dramatized transcripts of Walt Disney’s story board meetings. The Lion King – being a more modern production – actually saw some of their story room meetings recorded on home video. Introduced by the directors, we see the folks behind The Lion King discussing the origins of some of the iconic scenes from the final film. In fact, there’s over twenty minutes of these meetings which provide some really great insight to the film’s development.

Bloopers & Outtakes
All right, so, this is a hilarious bonus video which features various outtakes that have since been animated. Whether or not some are actual outtakes from the recording sessions or not I can’t speak to right now. Either way, the fact that they’ve been animated is incredibly entertaining. I love the idea that you get to see the characters make these mistakes as if they’re actually acting. And I think kids will enjoy them, too, which is good because very few of these special features on this release are geared toward younger viewers.

Deleted & Alternate Scenes
Another super fun addition to the Signature Collection are the Deleted and Alternatively scenes. I always love watching these and so I’m glad that, while a lot of special features weren’t included, these were. It’s really interesting to see what scenes were cut and what changes were made. Also included is an extended version of ‘The Morning Report’ – a song created for the musical adaptation of the film which was apparently animated and then included on the Platinum release of The Lion King. Having not seen a version of The Lion King since the original VHS release, I can’t speak to how it was originally released but it’s definitely cool to see the extended scene and how it changes the original scene.

Song Selection
One of the most helpful special features of any recent Disney release, the song selection allows you to skip through the film to just the songs you want to sing. For a movie like The Lion King with so many iconic songs that many of us remember singing all throughout our childhoods, this is a great option. The songs are all presented in a ‘sing-along’ format, too, for any youngins you’re introducing to the movie for the first time.

Not too shabby considering the ‘classic’ special features from the earlier releases are regulated to digital format only! Most of them are definitely worth watching and as long as you have access to Disney Movies Anywhere you can always check out the other special features, too.

Final Thoughts

So here’s the question I know you’re really asking: should I buy The Lion King: Signature Collection edition?

If you already picked up the Diamond Edition blu-ray release of The Lion King then you can probably skip this one. For a lot of the films included in the Signature Collection, these new releases have been the first time the movies have been available on blu-ray or digital. That isn’t true for The Lion King, however. The special features on this version – while entertaining – aren’t necessarily worth the price tag if you already have The Lion King on blu-ray or as part of your digital collection. If you don’t, though, this is the perfect time to add it to your collection!

Don’t hesitate because you never know when this film might disappear back into the Disney Vault. Seriously, don’t hesitate. The Diamond Edition was only available for about a year-and-a-half. You can pick up The Lion King: Signature Collection release today!

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