After a century of roaring at audiences on the big screen, the MGM lion is no more. That is, the live-action version of Leo the lion has now been replaced with a CG-animated Leo taking his place. Leo roars in a manner that looks very similar to the live-action version, but the noticeable change might still bug filmgoers who’ve long grown accustomed to the classic Leo. How you feel about it is up for you to decide, and you can check out the unveiling of the CG mascot below.
While the MGM mascot is referred to as a single lion named Leo, there were in fact eight different lions used by the studio for the company’s logo since 1916. The last version of the lion that had been used since 1957 before the CG-Leo’s unveiling was actually named “Leo,” though the ones before him had different names. For 64 years, Leo has served just fine with his job in welcoming filmgoers to MGM movies, but the powers that be felt that the time had simply come for a change to be made.
While we’re just now seeing the CG-animated Leo the lion, MGM has been planning to reveal the new mascot for a long time. Developed in collaboration with Baked Studios, the lion was originally set to debut with the premiere of No Time to Die, the latest James Bond movie. Due to the pandemic, that movie has undergone several major delays, pushing back Leo’s introduction to movie theater audiences as well. Rather than wait for the movie’s release this fall, MGM opted to release the logo this week on YouTube instead.
To see the new Leo on the big screen, he is now set to make his theatrical debut in July with the premiere of Dog, a new comedy starring Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin. He’ll follow with another appearance in theaters the next month when the Arethra Franklin biopic Respect, with Jennifer Hudson as the iconic singer, has its official premiere. We can presume the CG-Leo will then remain a fixture in other upcoming MGM releases as well, potentially for over six decades as the live-action lion did before him.
MGM Studios appears to be pretty satisfied with the new logo’s look. In a tweet posted after the logo’s unveiling, the studio writes, “The New MGM logo is worth its weight in gold.”
Still, not everyone is willing to accept the changes. One response tweet to the new mascot reads, “This looks really nice all things considered, but the CG lion is kinda off-putting, like why don’t you just use a real lion?”
Another adds, “It just looks uncanny and weird imo. They could’ve recycled footage of the MGM lion onto the new logo.”
And for a better look at the differences, another Twitter user posted side-by-side comparison photos of the real lion next to the CGI one. You can take a look at that one below.
Anytime there are major changes made with anything, it’s bound to result in a variety of opinions. The first look at the new Lion the lion comes to us from MGM on YouTube.