It’s a Disney kind of year at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, with three of the five Golden Globe slots for best animated film awarded to Walt Disney Company films.
Two of the Disney nominees — Pixar’s Toy Story 4 and Walt Disney Animation Studios’s Frozen II — were expected, but the third nominee, The Lion King, is a total surprise because the Walt Disney Company had heretofore not acknowledged that it was an animated film. Did they have a change of heart? The answer is no.
According to sources with knowledge of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), we’ve learned that the Disney Company actually submitted The Lion King as a live-action film, however the HFPA disqualified it from the live-action categories. According to the organization’s rules (see PDF), “Animated motion pictures are not eligible for the Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, or Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language awards.”
The unexpected nomination of The Lion King in an animation category has thrown Disney’s award season strategy into disarray, as the company now has three films competing in the same category, something that they had tried to avoid by deliberately mislabeling The Lion King as live action.
In a new series of campaign ads that the company released across social media on Monday, the Disney Company refused to directly acknowledge that The Lion King had been nominated for best animated feature at the Golden Globes. While the ads for Frozen II and Toy Story 4 point out that the films have been nominated for Best Animated Film, The Lion King ad only mentions Best Original Song. The ads are posted below.
It’s unknown how, or if, this will affect the final outcome of the Golden Globes race, but after all Disney has done to mislead audiences about the production techniques used on its Lion King remake, there’s some satisfaction in seeing the film properly recognized as an animated feature at a major awards show that is second only to the Oscars in terms of visibility.