James Cummins Fine Arts
 

THE ORIGINS OF ‘THE LION KING’

229445 DISCH, Thomas M.  King of the Kalahari. A Treatment [9-page Treatment for animated motion picture, eventually filmed as The Lion King, with a small group of related material: Autograph memorandum on Disch’s stationery: “Nov ’88, idea at lunch Oct 11 ’88”; with TLS from Charles Fink on Disney letterhead conveying three marked draft scripts entitled The King of the Jungle by a Disney staff writer, two contracts between Disney and Disch, and a TLS on Karpfinger Agency letterhead, conveying a cheque].  4to, New York:  1988-1989.  Original typescript and memo, fine. With photocopies of the three typescript drafts from Disney annotated by Jeffrey Katzenberg. Provenance: Thomas M. Disch. SOLD

The works of Thomas M. Disch (1940-2008) include science-fiction classics such as The Genocides, Camp Concentration, and 334, a controversial study of science fiction,  The Dreams Our Stuff is Made of, numerous volumes of poetry and criticism, and a genuine children’s classic, The Brave Little Toaster.

Disch wrote and submitted this draft treatment for the story that became ‘The Lion King’ in late 1988. By late the following year, as the accompanying correspondence from his agent shows, Disch had been replaced as writer on the project and paid off; he was not among those credited on the film as produced.

“Because of his intellectual audacity, the chillingly distanced mannerism of his narrative art, the austerity of the pleasures he affords, and the fine cruelty of his wit, TMD has been perhaps the most respected, least trusted, most envied and least read of all modern first-rank sf writers” — Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1993).

An unusual chapter from the career of a multi-talented American author.

2 Responses to “THE ORIGINS OF ‘THE LION KING’”

  1. Nora Lumiere says:

    What a disgrace. How hard would it have been to give Tom Disch a “suggested by” or inspired by” credit, especially considering the 29 credited “writers”. Thank you for posting this.

  2. Charlie Fink says:

    Since my name is mentioned above, I think I should correct the record. The idea of doing Bambi in Africa originated with the studio. We pitched it to several writers, including Tom. He wanted to a Shakespearean thing with the lions, so we let him take a swipe at it. Several others (staff writer Jenny Tripp? Kerry Kirkpatrick maybe?) also wrote little bits and scenes and treatments here and there, too. These were all discarded. JT Allen wrote the script that green lit the move. It was 100% his. Turning Scar into the scheming uncle, the Hamlet elements, were added by Ron Bass, who worked closely with JT on the final draft, like his Oxford don. Tom Disch was an animation story man, having worked on BLT, and was familiar with our process. He had no expectations, and the contract reflects that. Like all the artists who worked on the this project he was treated by me with great respect and honesty.

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