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<I>Lion King 1-1/2</I> Offers More Than a Three-peat

24 Jan, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Feb. 10 video release of The Lion King 1-1/2 is a bookend of sorts. The 70-minute animated 1-1/2 ($29.99 DVD, $24.99 VHS), which stars characters Timon (featuring Nathan Lane's voice) and Pumbaa, among other favorites, has a storyline that begins prior to the original The Lion King and ends shortly thereafter. (There also is a Lion King II, which follows Simba's daughter.)

“Disney gets the most requests for a Lion King sequel,” said producer George Mendoza. “It's really a situation where the public is hoping there will be a future [Lion King] project.”

Mendoza said there were numerous discussions on the film's title, which many assumed would be No. 3 if the story had followed a chronological time order.

“I think everybody is really pleased it ended up with [1-1/2] because it is an irreverent film,” Mendoza said. In addition to the feature film, 1-1/2 offers the usual DVD fare, including deleted scenes, a making-of segment, music videos, a virtual safari, a “mock-umentary” on Timon's past (narrated by original “Mission: Impossible” star Peter Graves) and Lane's always amusing audio outtakes, among other bonus material. 1-1/2 also features “Who Wants to Be King of the Jungle?,” with host Meredith Vieira, as a jungle edition of the long-running (Disney-owned) ABC TV show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and “Hidden Mickey Hunt,” whereby viewers can track with their remotes hidden images of Mickey Mouse in the film.

“We were asked by [Disney executives] about a hidden Mickey in the film, because often there would be three circles in a scene that looked like a hidden Mickey [Mouse],” Mendoza said. “Disney often gets letters asking whether Mickey Mouse appears [incognito] in other animated features. So what we decided to do was sneak in some hidden Mickeys.”

Mendoza said the DVD features aren't necessarily about studio product placement.

“It's more a situation that we knew people were looking for them, so we might as well oblige them and give them something to really look for,” he said.

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