News today that a live action remake of The Lion King is in the works, has been met with both excitement and trepidation by fans of the original film.

Sources said the project was fast-tracked after the phenomenal success of The Jungle Book, which took over $1 billion worldwide, despite only opening in April.

Like The Jungle Book, the new live-action version of The Lion King will be helmed by Jon Favreau.

No release dates have been announced yet, so while we wait, lets look back at the original film - and a few things you might not have known about the 1994 family classic...

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NOT A PRIORITY

Disney were working on Pocahontas - which was released almost exactly a year after The Lion King - at the same time, and by their bet, they expected Pocahontas to be the bigger hit.

So convinced were they that Pocahontas would be the bigger hit, they assigned their 'A' team of animators to work on it while their 'B' team toiled on The Lion King.

In the end, The Lion King grossed more than three times the global box office of Pocahontas, making almost $1 billion in cinemas. And remember how much cheaper going to the movies was in 1994?

The Lion King is the biggest animated movie of the last 50 years in terms of estimated attendance.

DIRTY DISNEY

Hidden message?

Yes, animals can be dirty too. This moment in the 1994 hit was paused on many a kid's VHS copy.

As Lion King Simba slumps on the ground, he sends a cloud of dust swirling up into the night sky. For a moment, the dust seems to form into the letters: S-E-X. Scandal!

An animator on the film has confirmed that yes, there was indeed a word intentionally spelled out in the dust - but it's not what you think, filthy viewers.

Animator Tom Sito insists that the letters actually spell 'SFX', an in-jokey 'hello' from the film's art and special effects (or 'SFX') department.

DISTANT VOICES

Matthew Broderick. Photo / Supplied
Matthew Broderick. Photo / Supplied

Matthew Broderick voiced the adult Simba, and recorded his performance over the space of three years.

However in that time, Broderick only ever recorded his lines with another actor once.

He only discovered who voiced his love interest in the film, Nala, when he rocked up to the premiere (it was actress Moira Kelly).

CONTROVERSY

While it's a beloved family classic, The Lion King was met with controversy upon release.

Would you believe a hyena researcher sued Disney for defamation of character, saying the film's representation of the animals left a lot to be desired (uh, it's a cartoon, not a nature doco).

Another hyena expert, who facilitated the animaters' research trip to study animal behaviour, encouraged viewers to boycott the film.

Some also felt the 'evil' hyenas, voiced by three of the only voice actors of colour in an otherwise largely white voice cast, were a racist representation. (But let's not forget that James Earl Jones was Mufasa).

Basically: The hyenas were problematic.

CASTING CHOICES

The film's funniest odd couple, Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella), could've sounded very different - Lane originally auditioned for the role of Zazu, while Sabella tried out as one of the hyenas.

The pair, who were co-starring in musical Guys and Dolls at the time, read for their parts together, and the directors realised they had a winning comedy duo on their hands.

Speaking of comedy duos, the film was to reunite stoner comics Cheech & Chong to play two of the hyenas. Only Cheech signed up, so Whoopi Goldberg stepped in to fill the other role.

COPY CATS?

While The Lion King's filmmakers acknowledged that they took inspiration from Hamlet for the story, it was considered the first Disney animated movie to be an original story, rather than based on a pre-existing work.

At least, that's what Disney said - others begged to differ. Many noted the film shared many similarities with 1950s Japanese cartoon Kimba The White Lion, with multiple Japanese cartoonists signing a petition demanding Disney acknowledge their alleged inspiration.

Even Matthew Broderick admitted that he assumed he was lending his voice to a US adaptation of Kimba when he started work on the film.

However Lion King director Roger Allers insisted he'd never even heard of Kimba: "The whole time I worked on The Lion King the name of that show never came up. At least I never heard it. I had never seen the show and really only became aware of it as Lion King was being completed, and someone showed me images of it."

WORK FROM HOME

The making of the film was fragmented to say the least - an earthquake towards the end of the production forced all the Californian staff to finish their animation at home.

COMING TO AMERICA

Turns out Simba has one very big thing in common with Eddie Murphy's character in this 1988 comedy classic: They both have the same parents.

Simba's parents Mufasa and Sarabi are voiced by James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair respectively, who also played King Jaffe and Queen Aeoleon in Murphy's fish-out-of-water tale.

DANCING QUEEN

Can You Feel The Love Tonight?

Elton John co-wrote the soundtrack with musical maestro Tim Rice, but he wasn't the first choice: Rice originally wanted Benny and Bjorn from ABBA to work on the project, but they had other musical commitments.

Songs like Can You Feel The Love Tonight and Hakuna Matata were inescapable during the mid-90s, and it showed in the sales.

The Lion King soundtrack has sold over 10 million copies in the US alone, making it the biggest-selling soundtrack to an animated film, EVER.