Milestone Films

Simba: The King of the Beasts

They were an unlikely pair to become international celebrities and America’s foremost filmmaker-explorers. Martin Johnson first met the 16-year-old Osa Leighty in the small town of Chanute, Kansas while presenting lantern slides from his Snark voyage with Jack London. One month later they became husband and wife — launching a partnership that would take them around the world. Osa described their lives together in the title of her memoirs — I Married Adventure.

Journeying to remote and exotic regions, Martin and Osa Johnson produced, wrote and photographed films celebrating the natural wonder and native tribes of Africa, Asia and the South Seas. For SIMBA, they forded crocodile-infested rivers, braved stampeding elephants and stared down angry rhinos in order to film lions in their natural habitat, the veldt. Killing only for food, self protection or scientific study, the Johnson’s became two of Africa’s first conservationists.

It was Martin and Osa’s films that directly influenced Frederick O’Brien to leave for the Pacific and write White Shadows in the South Seas. It was the memory of the lions in SIMBA on which Akira Kurosawa based Toshiro Mifune’s character in RASHOMON. It can hardly be realized today the enormous level of their popularity and the magnitude of their films and lectures on the world in the 1920s through the 1950s. SIMBA alone made an astounding $2 million dollars around the world.

Although some of SIMBA’s intertitles have dated, the Johnsons’ camerawork still astonishes with some of the most spectacular images ever of African wildlife. The remarkable portraits of Kenyan tribes are also an invaluable record of that lost world — and the score (using traditional Kenyan melodies) by James Makubuya is just as amazing. Today, the restored SIMBA can be seen as the highlight of the Johnsons’ career and a dazzling testimonial to the beauty of the “dark continent.”

"Exciting! Thrilling! The elephant scenes are remarkable." - New York Times

DVD Bonus Feature: A rarely-seen 15-minute introduction from the 1928 release of SIMBA giving a history of the Johnson's career!


USA. 1928. 83 minutes. Black & White. Recorded for the screen by Martin and Osa Johnson 

under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History. Edited by Martin Johnson and 

Terry Ramsaye. Story by Martin Johnson. Titles: Terry Ramsaye. With George Eastman; the 

Samburu, Boran, Turkana, Meru, Kikuyu, Dorobo, Nandi and Lumbwa tribes; lions; zebras; 

crocodiles; elephants; rhinos and other denizens of the veldt. Acknowledgment is made of the 

contributions to this work by Carl Akeley and Alfred J. Klein. Restored from original 35mm 

material by Milestone. ©1928 Daniel E. Pomeroy. ©1992 Milestone Film & Video. Traditional East African Music Score 

composed and performed by James Makubuya.

This DVD is also available for Institutional Purchase, which includes public performance rights and a 3-year streaming license. Please click on the “Format” button and select “DVD Institutional Rate.”

 An Explanation of Home, Classroom, and Public Performance Rights

Individuals and non-profit institutions purchasing DVDs, DVD-Rs, or Blu-rays — or streaming — at published home-use sale and rental prices are authorized to use the film only for private home screenings and legitimate classroom showings (a regularly scheduled class with an instructor present), per the United States Copyright Law. You can learn more about the distinction between classroom and public performance screenings here.


Through our distribution partner, Kino Lorber, Milestone provides a variety of licensing to suit all needs. Our standard institutional licensing packages are designed to provide colleges, universities and qualified non-profits with the best value for multiple uses, and our one-time community screening licenses allow any organization to exhibit high-quality films for a reasonable fee. Please note that all licensing carries restrictions on audience numbers and/or geographic range.


  • CLASSROOM RIGHTS allow unlimited use in face-to-face classroom situations for the life of the media, restricted to a single campus or location. Please note that this license doesn't include public screenings or digital transmission of any kind.
  • PUBLIC PERFORMANCE RIGHTS (PPR) allow educational and nonprofit groups to exhibit our films to groups of 100 or fewer individuals where admission is not charged. The term of the public performance license is for the life of the DVD. However, if you intend to charge admission, expect an audience over 100, or publicly advertise the screening, then we ask that you contact us regarding an exhibition fee. Films purchased without Public Performance Rights are restricted for individual viewing or face-to-face teaching in the classroom only.
  • DIGITAL SITE LICENSES (DSL) allow colleges, universities and nonprofits to locally host and stream to their community on a closed, password-protected system for the life of the digital file.
  • K-12 PPR comes with limited performance rights so films can be shown in classrooms, at PTA meetings, during after school programs, and transmitted on a closed-circuit system within a K-12 school building or on a single campus. 

For all educational licenses and screenings, please Estelle Grosso, Director of Educational and Non-Theatrical Sales & Distribution at Kino Lorber (Milestone’s distribution partner) at:

The purchase of DVDs, DVD-Rs, and Blu-rays at the institutional rate by anyone outside of a North American non-profit educational institution does not grant rights for public performance or streaming.

Any continuous or loop screenings as part of a museum exhibition must also be licensed separately. Inquiries must be negotiated directly by emailing

Information for Exhibitors Screening DCPs and Film Prints

All bookings must be made by email correspondence with George Schmalz, Director of Theatrical Sales at Kino Lorber (Milestone’s distribution partner) at: to negotiate terms and insure a screening copy is available. An order is only finalized when Kino Lorber sends written confirmation.

DCPs are shipped insured for their cost via Federal Express or UPS and must be returned the same way or by an equivalent method. Shipping and handling charges for outgoing DCPs appear on your invoice. The immediate return or transshipment (as directed) of all DCPs is your responsibility.

DCPs should be returned to:

Milestone Film & Video
38 George Street
Harrington Park, New Jersey 07640-0128
United States 

35mm and 16mm prints are shipped insured for their cost via Federal Express or UPS and must be returned the same way or by an equivalent method. Please do not ship prints back via US Mail. Exhibitor pays to ship both ways. Shipping and handling charges for outgoing prints appear on your invoice. The immediate return of all prints is your responsibility.

Prints should be returned insured for $1,000 to:

Iron Mountain
Attn: Milestone Account
235 Main Street
Little Falls, NJ 07424

For public screenings, advertising materials can be requested by contacting

Milestone is the exclusive licensor for all the titles in this catalog, all of which are available from Milestone’s distribution partner Kino Lorber. in their complete versions.


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