Top 10 Lion Movies [Updated - 2021]

By | 01 April 2020

Lions are truly majestic animals to observe in the wild, inspiring many famous documentaries, TV series, animations and movies over the years.   With our camps situated within the territories of famous prides of lion and their prey, Asilia has played a part in the making of several well-known big cat documentaries and films, including some mentioned below.  We asked our Asilia Facebook followers to pick their all-time best lion movies and documentaries; count down with us to see which one occupies the number one spot.


Top 10 Lion Movies


10. Madagascar – DreamWorks Animation (2005)

We begin with an all-time classic, loved by both children and adults.  Madagascar is a comedy animation with a hilarious ensemble cast of holywood stars: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Sacha Baron Cohen, David Schwimmer, Cedric the Entertainer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Andy Richter, Bob Saget and more.  It was a huge commercial success which resulted in several sequels and spin-offs: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Penguins of Madagascar, and All Hail King Julien.


9. The Ghost and the Darkness – Paramount (1996)

The Ghost and the Darkness tells the historical story of a pair of man-eating lions that attacked and killed a number of construction workers who were building the Kenya-Uganda Railway In 1898.  Hollywood stars Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas play the role of an engineer and a veteran hunter who set out to hunt the two lions, named by locals as “the Ghost” and “the Darkness”.


8. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe – Disney (2005)

The Chronicles of Narnia are a series of famous and beloved books written by C. S. Lewis in the 1950s. They have been adapted for radio, plays, television and film.  Set in the realm of Narnia, home to magic and talking animals, including a lion named Aslan.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe fantasy film was released in 2005 and starred Liam Neeson (as the voice of Aslan) and Tilda Swinton as the White Witch.  The movie was followed by Prince Caspian (2008) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), making over $1.5 billion globally.


7. African Cats – DisneyNature (2011)

This is a true life adventure documentary telling the dramatic, real story of two families of big cats living in Kenya’s famous Maasai Mara National Reserve.  The Maasai Mara and surrounding conservancies (such as Naboisho Conservancy) is one of the few remaining places on Earth where lions, cheetahs and leopards live in high numbers within the same territory, competing with one another for food.  Having operated in the region for decades and having camps situated in ideal locations to access these big cats, Asilia provided logistical support for the filming.  The film is narrated by Samuel L Jackson as well as by Patrick Stewart (in the UK release), and proceeds from the documentary resulted in thousands of acres of land being protected in Kenya.


6. Christian the Lion – Morningstar Productions (1972)

This incredible true story took place in the 1970’s and was covered by the newspapers of the time, with the documentary film being made in 1971.  The story was revived and went viral in 2002 after a clip was posted on YouTube

Christian was born in a zoo in 1969, and was subsequently bought and sold by Harrods to friends John Rendall and Ace Bourke, who kept him in the basement of their London furniture store. In 1971 they returned him to his ancestral home of Kenya, where lion expert George Adamson carefully and successfully reintroduced him to the wild, with Christian eventually heading his own pride.  Having not seen him in nine months, the famous clip shows the reunion of Rendall and Bourke with Christian.


5. Relentless Enemies – National Geographic (2006)

Narrated by Jeremy Irons, this is a dramatic documentary about a pride of lions as they stalk and attempt to hunt notoriously powerful buffalo in difficult terrain within the Okavango delta.


4. Eternal Enemies: Lions and Hyenas - National Geographic (1992)

Like Relentless Enemies shown above, Eternal Enemies: Lions and Hyenas is a documentary made by prolific husband-and-wife filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert.  Set in Botswana, this shows the raw reality of life in the wild of Africa, as a pride of lions feud with a clan of hyenas.


3. The Last Lions – National Geographic (2011)

Rounding off a trio of documentaries featured in our top 10, The Last Lions was also made by South Africans Dereck and Beverly Joubert and is narrated by Jeremy Irons.  The film focuses on a lioness mother named Ma di Tau as she fights to protect her cubs and ensure their survival in the wild.


2. The Last Lioness – Aquavision (2009)

This documentary is the story of lioness Lady Liuwa, who lives alone on Zambia’s Liuwa Plain.  With no pride, she has no support to help her survive, the sad result of illegal trophy hunting that destroyed the rest of her species in the region.


And the number 1 lion movie, as voted by our wildlife enthusiasts on Facebook, is...


1. Born Free – Columbia Pictures (1966)

‘BORN FREE’ – The star of this beautiful 1966 film is lion ‘Elsa’, a lion cub. Joy Adamson and her husband, Kenya game warden George Adamson, raise the cub. As one of our fans said: “It is the only choice, single-handedly inspired the modern safari in the late 1960’s, probably the single most successful piece of conservation marketing ever. If you haven’t seen it at least three times then your life is not complete.”


BONUS MOVIE: The Lion King - Disney (1994 and 2019)

The Lion King is a childhood favourite of so many of today's adults, full of iconic characters, scenes and songs.  Disney remade The Lion King in 2019, allowing it to become a modern-day classic for today's children, but this time using highly realistic animation techniques.  Asilia was Disney’s partner when location filming for The Lion King in 2017, with Naboisho's pro-guide and camp manager Roelof Schutte guiding them for 2 weeks around Kenya. Watch the evolution of The Lion King below.


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