“Our company apologizes to Emerson Elementary School PTA, and I will personally donate to their fund raising initiative,” Iger tweeted.
The apology followed days of complaints on social media from parents, children and residents after Disney assessed the fee. The fundraiser in November had charged attendees $15 for the movie, pizza and snacks, billing it as a “fun” and “community-building event.” After receiving word from Disney about the fee, the PTA then set up a fundraising initiative designed to defray the $250 charge.
On the PTA’s Facebook page, one commenter called the fine “completely uncalled for.” Another disagreed, asking: “Did you ask the company for permission? If the answer is no, school fundraiser or not, it’s really wrong to use someone else’s hard work for your gain.”
Released on July — 25 years after the original, hand-drawn, animated film — The Lion King has grossed more than $1.6 billion worldwide and ranks as Disney’s top all-time title apart from Marvel or Star Wars films.
The licensing fee request came from Movie Licensing USA, which represents Walt Disney Pictures and other major studios. Typically, not-for-profit organizations and schools will notify Movie Licensing when they want to hold screenings, and the company says it was operating well within the boundaries of copyright law.
While Disney was just following its usual corporate playbook in asking for the fee, the flap has come as the company attracts growing criticism for its stance on licensing, especially in the repertory film area. Having absorbed 20th Century Fox as part of the $71.3 billion Fox acquisition last year, the company now controls up to 50% of domestic box office on a given year. It has held back many Fox catalog titles from exhibitors looking to screen them, upsetting many theater owners and cinephiles who say an important part of film history is at risk.
Here is Iger’s tweet: