Disney did not submit The Lion King for the this year's Oscars Best Animated Feature consideration. Jon Favreau's re-telling of the beloved 1994 animated classic boasted a star-studded voice cast featuring Donald Glover as Simba, John Oliver as Zazu, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, John Kani as Rafiki, Beyonce as Nala, Seth Rogen as Timon and Billy Eichner as Pumbaa, James Earl Jones reprised his role from the original film as Mufasa. But despite high hopes considering what Favreau was able to accomplish in The Jungle Book, the film was deemed a disappointment.
While that doesn't reflect in The Lion King's box office earnings of more than $1 billion worldwide, reviews were mixed on the movie. Much of the criticism stemmed from the lack of any new story element that would warrant a remake, as well as the photorealistic, yet unexpressive CG animals. As such, perhaps it's unsurprising for some that Disney opted to not push for a Best Animated Feature campaign in this year's Academy Awards.
The official Oscars website lists down all 32 animated movies submitted for the organization's consideration for Best Animated Feature. While The Lion King is noticeably absent from the selection, Disney has a few entries including next month's much-anticipated Frozen II and Pixar’s Toy Story 4. They join DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and Abominable, Warner Bros.’ The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and Illumination Entertainment’s The Secret Life of Pets 2. LAIKA’s Missing Link is also in the race, as well as Netflix who gets in the competition via their upcoming holiday offerings Klaus (an origin story for Santa Claus) and the indie I Lost My Body which previously won the French film won the Nespresso Grand Prize (the first animated movie to do so).
There's no given reason why Disney has opted to skip pushing for The Lion King for this year's Oscars. Considering the mixed reviews of the film, it somehow makes sense, especially since they have other candidates for the accolade. However, it's important to note that critical reviews haven't really stopped studios from putting their films for the Academy Award selection. In conjunction to that, they're also not guarantees that a film will score a nomination, let alone win a category.
However, aside from the reviews, there's also the discussion about whether The Lion King is considered a live-action or an animated film. The reason why The Jungle Book was dubbed the former was because it featured a human character in Neel Sethi's Mowgli. Perhaps Disney is categorizing the film as live-action, hence why it's not in their Best Animated Feature pool.