Disney dates 3D ‘Lion King’

Hand-drawn toon conversion to bow Sept. 16

Disney has set Sept. 16 to release a 3D version of its hit 1994 toon “The Lion King,” a move that worked for the Mouse House after 2009 releases of 3D versions of “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2.”

With “Lion King,” Disney applies its dimensional brush for the first time on a hand-drawn toon. Studio had flirted with several possible dates for a 3D “Beauty and the Beast,” but ultimately pulled it from the calendar.

Disney said it still plans to release “Beauty and the Beast” in 3D, though most likely not before “Lion King” hits 3D screens.

3D conversions of “Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast” will allow the Mouse to mine its vault in new ways — much like it did with “Toy Story.”

The “Toy Story” double bill allowed Disney to re-activate the franchise’s merchandising line in anticipation of last year’s “Toy Story 3.” The “Toy” 3D combo bowed in October, earning $30.7 million domestically, with an additional nearly $35 million from overseas box office.

“Lion King’s” fall 3D re-release serves as family counterprogramming to the weekend’s already packed lineup: Sony’s James Marsden-Kate Bosworth re-do “Straw Dogs,” Universal’s “Johnny English Reborn,” Cannes entry “Drive,” from FilmDistrict, and the Weinstein Co.’s “I Don’t Know How She Does It” are all set to bow wide that weekend.

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