Bob Iger Apologizes to School for ‘Lion King’ Licensing Fee
On Twitter this morning, Disney CEO Bob Iger attempted to right things with the Berkeley, CA elementary school charged with a licensing fee for screening 2019’s The Lion King at a fundraiser. Emerson Elementary School had to pay Movie Licensing USA a $250 fine more than two months after the “parents’ night out” event. While $250 might not sound like a ton in the grand scheme of things, for this grassroots community event, it was one third of what they raised that night.
Movie Licensing USA handles licensing rights for the Disney as well as other major motion picture studios. The Emerson Elementary PTA had no idea that they were violating any sort of copyright law, and many parents were upset with the harshness of the company’s policy. The issue attracted the attention of Berkeley City Council member Lori Droste, who is also a parent at Emerson Elementary. “It’s just so appalling that an incredibly wealthy corporation ... is having its licensing agents chase after a PTA having to raise insane amounts of money just to pay teachers, cover financial scholarships and manage school programs," she told CNN. Disney’s remake of The Lion King grossed $1.6 billion worldwide, joining the studio’s “Billion Dollar Club” along with titles such as Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, and Toy Story 4.
Schools and non-profits looking to screen Disney’s movies will still be required to get Movie Licensing USA’s permission in the future. And now that Disney has officially acquired 20th Century Fox, independent screenings of those back catalog titles are much harder to pull off. But in this isolated incident, Iger wants to make peace with the Emerson Elementary PTA. Hopefully, Iger’s apology and donation to Emerson Elementary’s fundraising initiative will make everything all “Hakuna Matata” between the two.
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