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The biggest movie star of all time deserves the biggest celebrity auction of all time. Christies has announced five separate auctions from the collection of Elizabeth Taylor.  Her couture gowns, the costumes and props and scripts from her films, and of course her jewels are being auctioned in December and may be viewed at Rockefeller Center in New York (times to be announced).  Everything from the grandest jewels (one ring is estimated at over $3 million) to a Van Gogh painting, a Versace jacket with her face all over it, and a poster of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” will be offered, with many items to be auctioned online.  

 

“The Lion King” finishes its record-breaking theatrical re-release in 3D with its first Blu-Ray in a superpack and I have five to give away!  Details below.

One of Disney’s most popular animated features (and the inspiration for one of Broadway’s biggest blockbuster) is ”The Lion King,” a sort of cross between “Richard III,” “Henry IV,” and “Hamlet.” It is the story of Simba (voice of Jonathan Taylor Thomas as a child, Matthew Broderick as an adult), the cub of Mufasa (James Earl Jones), the king of the jungle.  Simba “just can’t wait to be king.” But his evil Uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons), bitterly jealous of Mufasa, wants to be king, so he arranges for Mufasa to be killed in a stampede and to have Simba think he is responsible.

Simba runs away, and finds friends in Pumbaa the warthog (Ernie Sabella) and Timon the meerkat (Nathan Lane), who advise him that the best philosophy is “hakuna matata” (no worries). Simba grows up thinking he has escaped from his past, but his childhood friend, Nala finds him, and tells him that under Scar’s leadership, the tribe has suffered badly. She persuades him to return to take on his responsibilities as King of the Pridelands. He learns that it was Scar who caused Mufasa’s death, and he vanquishes Scar to become King.

Not just a movie, but a marketing phenomenon, this blockbuster was the highest grossing film of 1994. Amazingly, it made even more money in merchandise than it did at the box office, a fact for which audiences have been paying ever since, as each subsequent Disney animated movie seems to be designed primarily as a commercial for teeshirts, lunch boxes and action figures. The score, and the song “Circle of Life,” with authentic African rhythms and instruments, won Oscars for Elton John and Tim Rice.

Parents should know that the death of Mufasa is genuinely scary and young and sensitive children may be frightened of the stampede, the hyenas, and the family betrayal.  More troubling is the arrogance of the “Circle of Life” explanation, which is mighty reassuring as long as you are the one on top of the food chain. And worse than that is the whole “hakuna matata” idea, which is genuinely irresponsible.  Make sure that kids realize that even Simba finds out that he cannot run away from his problems.

Family discussion:  How was being king different from what Simba thought?  What does your family do to welcome new babies?

If you like this, try: the stage production, with its extraordinary puppets, “The Lion King 1 1/2,” a much better-than-average sequel, and other Disney animated classics like “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid.”

To enter the contest for the Blu-Ray/DVD Combo: send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Lion King” in the subject line and tell me your favorite song from this movie.  Don’t forget your address!  Good luck, and I will pick a winner a week from today.

We teach our children not to talk to strangers and then we send them out into the internet where it is impossible to tell strangers from friends.  Inspired by real events, “@urFRENZ” was written to help families discuss the complicated challenges of bullying and cyberbullying. Here is an exclusive clip:

It’s available now on iTunes and VOD.

I’m delighted that Dolphin Tale topped the box office this week with a healthy $14.2 million, very impressive for its second week of release.  It shows that the movie has strong word of mouth — people who have seen it are encouraging their friends to take their families.  And with The Lion King holding on to third place, the message should be clear that ticket-buyers want family films.  In between at second place is the excellent Moneyball.  But it is unusual that none of this week’s releases made it into the top three.  What’s Your Number deservedly tanked.  I hope that 50/50 finds its audience.  And it was very encouraging to see such a good response to the Christian film “Courageous.”  Not only did it outperform the projected sales in limited release, but the audience reaction was very enthusiastic.  According to the LA Times,

Audiences who saw the movie loved it, giving it an average grade of A+, according to market research firm CinemaScore. “Courageous” is only the fourth movie this year to earn a perfect grade, joining “The Help” and two other movies that resonated faith-based audiences, “Soul Surfer” and “Dolphin Tale.” It was an older crowd that went to see “Courageous” this weekend, with 77% of the audience over 25.

The movie got off to an even better start than “Fireproof,” the Kendricks’ 2008 film featuring “Growing Pains” star Kirk Cameron as a firefighter struggling to keep his marriage together. That movie, also inexpensive to produce, opened to $6.8 million and ultimately collected $33.5 million worldwide.

The movie was not screened for critics, but I hope to review it very soon.