Poignant lion video inspires movie project

LOS ANGELES/TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - Millions have seen the YouTube video of “Christian the Lion” reuniting in Africa with the two men who bought him from a high-end London department store in 1969.

Sony Pictures aims to bring the story of Christian and the two men, John Rendall and Anthony “Ace” Bourke, to the big screen.

The studio is in the process of securing the life-story rights of Rendall and Bourke and their 1972 book, “A Lion Called Christian.”

One of the most-viewed YouTube videos of the reunion features Whitney Houston belting out “I Will Always Love You” in the background to footage from a 1971 documentary about the two men visiting Christian a year after they sent him to Africa to be reintroduced into the wild.

The men are unsure whether Christian will recognize them, and the lion approaches them slowly at first. Christian then rushes toward them and affectionately “hugs” them -- provoking tears from nearly everyone who views the video.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter