The Lion King: Signature Collection Blu-ray Review

Audiences will fall in love all over again with the treasured classic, and a new generation of fans will laugh with Timon and Pumbaa, cry with Simba and Mufasa, burst into song, and find their place in the “Circle of Life.”

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: Disney – 1994
MPAA Rating: G
Feature running time: 88 minutes
Genre: Family

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish 5.1 (Disney Enhanced) Home Theater Mix
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: James Earl Jones, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Rowan Atkinson, Madge Sinclair, Jeremy Irons, Moira Kelly, Jonathon Taylor Thomas, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, Ernie Sabella, Robert Gullaume
Directed by: Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Written by: Irene Mecchi, Jonathon Roberts, Linda Woolverton
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: August 29, 2017

“The King Has Returned”

My Take:

Audiences will fall in love all over again with the treasured classic, and a new generation of fans will laugh with Timon and Pumbaa, cry with Simba and Mufasa, burst into song, and find their place in the “Circle of Life.” The Walt Disney Signature Collection release includes over three hours of classic bonus material and exclusive, brand new features inviting viewers to sing along with the film’s award-winning music, observe recording sessions, step inside the story room, witness the evolution of a villain, and join Nathan Lane (voice of Timon) and Matthew Broderick (voice of Adult Simba) for an extended conversation regarding the legacy of “The Lion King.”

I reviewed the Diamond Edition release of The Lion King when it came to Blu-ray in 2011. Other than the new bonus content, this release contains the same audio/video presentation and legacy feature set (available on Digital Only). Below you will find my comments from that review along with the audio/video ratings. New ratings for the new bonus features will be added.

An unforgettable story, breathtaking animation, beloved characters and award-winning music sets the stage for The Lion King, a Disney classic that follows the adventures of Simba, the feisty lion cub who “just can’t wait to be king.” But his envious Uncle Scar has plans for his own ascent to the throne, and hatches a dastardly plot that forces Simba’s exile from the kingdom. Alone, heartbroken and riddled with guilt, Simba soon joins the escapades and carefree lifestyle of a hilarious meerkat named Timon and his warmhearted warthog pal, Pumbaa, whose mantra is “Hakuna Matata,” (it means no worries). Simba turns his back on his responsibilities but is shown that he must fulfill his destiny and returns to the Pride Lands to claim his place in the “Circle of Life.”

Let me start off by saying that The Lion King will forever have special meaning for me. It is the very first film I took my daughter to see in the theater. She was two years old and it was just the two of us. I watched as she sat quietly, mesmerized, not only by the experience but the film itself. We loved the music, the characters, the humor and the uplifting messages of courage, loyalty and hope. Of course, we bought it when it came to home video and over the years it became a staple in our home as both of my kids would perform the songs, reenact their favorite scenes and laugh at the same moments. I will admit that I never missed an opportunity to watch it with them and also fell in love with the story and characters.

The film inspired an immensely popular, Tony Award-winning Broadway musical (which we took the kids to see back in 2004), that is currently featured on stages worldwide. I haven’t seen The Lion King in years and looked forward to experiencing it on Blu-ray. It arrived the other day and my wife and I sat down and watched it. It was like revisiting an old friend. Right from the opening all of the memories came rushing back as we found ourselves immersed in feelings of nostalgia inspired by the music and wonderfully drawn characters. It is a timeless tale and wonderful family film that can be enjoyed by all.

Walt Disney was truly a pioneer whose vision has brought us some of the most beloved characters (both animated and living) in American cinema. The Lion King has become a part of our entertainment culture and like many of Disney’s animated classics has touched and will continue to touch generations of viewers. This Walt Disney Signature Collection, Circle of Life Edition home video release is another example of their long-standing dedication to offering quality home video releases. They have shown a fervent commitment to the Blu-ray format and have consistently offered technically impressive offerings that include format friendly supplements.

The Lion King is the fifth title to join the Walt Disney Signature Collection, which includes groundbreaking films created or inspired by the imagination and legacy of Walt Disney, featuring timeless stories and characters that have touched generations. It takes its place alongside “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Pinocchio” and “Bambi.”

Replay Value:

Parental Guide: 

This film is appropriate for all ages.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): 


Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones: 
  • Compression: 


The Lion King comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 5.5 Mbps.

With digital animation taking center stage over the last decade or so it is refreshing to come back to Disney’s hand drawn animation. Animation can sometimes be difficult to thoroughly judge when evaluating its video quality. There are aspects shared by both high definition and standard definition in terms of the absence of defining texture and lesser dimensional perspective. Objects in backgrounds are two dimensional which isn’t a problem but images can appear to have less depth. I have noticed that with good high definition animated video this is still the case but rendering is notably improved. Such is the case here.

This is a pristine and reference quality high definition presentation from Disney. The video quality is visually arresting in its depiction of the film’s animated subjects. Detail and definition is impeccably rendered as images have a luminous and sparkling clarity that is appreciably dimensional. The attention to detail in the construction of the animated characters physical features as well as objects within each frame is excellent. Colors are richly saturated, vibrant and beautifully rendered. Going from the golden hued accents and greenery of the Pride Lands to the lush, warm and gradationally enriched jungle is notably contrasted and visually stimulating. Primaries are particularly vivid and exhibit visibly delineated stages that bring out subtle degrees of separation. Contrast is spot on as blacks are rich with deep highlights, whites and grays exhibit multi-layered depth and refined detail that give them excellent dimension.

The 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack makes for an entertaining home theater experience. This is a fairly active sound design that truly benefits from the higher resolution that lossless audio offers. Dynamics are engaging as the elements contained within the soundtrack have definitive energy and impact. This plays hand in hand with its excellent clarity, and revealing detail. Hans Zimmer’s memorable music score plays an integral role in this presentation and the entire surround platform is used to present the instrumental performance. Dialog is crystalline with appreciable tonal inflection and non-sibilant vocal character. The mix creates a stable and immersive surround sound experience that achieves excellent balance so that all of the elements present in the recording can be realized. Low frequency detail is tight and on occasion palpably rich as it engages the room with attention getting bass.

Bonus Features:

  • • Brand New Sing-Along Version• Audio Commentary – View the film with commentary by producer Don Hahn and co-directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff.

    • Visualizing a Villain – Against a backdrop of live dancers and the animated “Be Prepared” sequence, artist David Garibaldi paints a masterpiece of evil.

    • The Recording Sessions – Watch rare footage of the actors recording their roles, matched with the final animation. Intro by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff.

    • Nathan and Matthew: The Extended Lion King Conversation – Nathan Lane (Timon) and Matthew Broderick (Adult Simba) offer candid and hilarious insights into their Lion King experiences.

    • Inside the Story Room – Co-directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff present archival footage of five original story pitches.
    o Circle of Life – See how color creates emotion and meaning in the film’s iconic opening.
    o Simba & Nala – See how elements proposed in story meetings evolve into what appears onscreen.
    o Simba Takes Nala Out to Play – …And, sometimes what seems funny in story meetings never makes it into the film!
    o Hakuna Matata – Co-directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff sing, act and dance their hearts out as they pitch the “Hakuna Matata” sequence.
    o Rafiki and Reflecting Pool – Co-directors Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff pitch a sequence that became the emotional heart of The Lion King to Producer Don Hahn.

    • Music & More – Sing along to your favorite songs from the movie!
    o “Circle of Life”
    o “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”
    o “Be Prepared”
    o “Hakuna Matata”
    o “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”

    • Galleries
    o Visual Development – Explore a gallery of striking artwork that inspired the movie’s look and feel.
    o Character Design – Trace the development of the film’s unforgettable characters through early concept art drawings.
    o Storyboards – Examine storyboards created in the development of “The Lion King.”
    o Layouts – Feast your eyes on layouts created in the development of “The Lion King.”
    o Backgrounds & Layouts – Journey through a gallery of landscape paintings that shaped the world of “The Lion King.”
    • Classic Bonus Features (Digital Only) – These offerings from prior home entertainment releases include hours of bonus material, such as bloopers, audio commentary, deleted and alternate scenes, and in-depth journeys into the music, film, story, animals and stage show.

Final Thoughts:

The Lion King is a beloved Disney animated feature and personal favorite that brings back fond memories of watching it with my children when they were little. This Walt Disney Signature Collection release on Blu-ray features top notch high definition video and a wonderful assortment of brand new supplements for fans to enjoy. The Lion King is a timeless family classic that deserves a place in the video collection of film enthusiasts.

If the additional bonus material found on this release isn’t important to you and you already own the previous release on Blu-ray, then you’re safe staying with that. If you are interested in the new supplement or don’t already own this film on Blu-ray than this offering is the way to go.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package