Recently, it was revealed that an elementary school in California was forced to pay a $250 fee for screening 2019's The Lion King during a fundraising event. As such, quite a few people online expressed their distaste in Disney for forcing the school to do so. Now, CEO Bob Iger has issued an apology and says that he will be donating money to the school's fundraiser as a means of expressing his regret for the situation.
Emerson Elementary School held a screening of Jon Favreau's remake of The Lion King in November 2019 for a "parent's night out" fundraiser. Two months later, the school was slapped with a $250 bill since the school didn't have a license or proper permission to screen the movie. Taking to Twitter, Bob Iger had this to say about the situation.
"Our company Walt Disney Company apologizes to the Emerson Elementary School PTA and I will personally donate to their fund raising initiative."
One of the fathers had purchased the movie at a local Best Buy. The school was unaware that they were breaking any form of copyright law by holding the screening. But, as explained in the email that was sent to the school by Movie Licensing USA, a company that manages licenses for Disney and other studios, legal permission is required to screen a movie, regardless of the situation.
"Any time a movie is shown outside of the home, legal permission is needed to show it, as it is considered a Public Performance. Any time movies are shown without the proper license, copyright law is violated and the entity showing the movie can be fined by the studios. If a movie is shown for any entertainment reason, even in the classroom, it is required by law that the school obtains a Public Performance license."
Copyright law is complicated and, when it comes to a massive media corporation like Disney, it becomes difficult to micromanage situations. Be that as it may, the fact that a company that generates billions upon billions of dollars in revenue annually handed out a $250 bill to a school that was trying to raise funds was a bad look. It hasn't been revealed how much Bob Iger intends to donate, but one can imagine it will be a heck of a lot more than $250.
The situation is exacerbated, given that The Lion King was such a massive success. The remake grossed more than $1.6 billion at the global box office, making it one of the biggest hits of 2019 overall, behind only Avengers: Endgame. With that in mind, the $250 seems even more petty and greedy. Even though it probably shouldn't have come to this in the first place, at least Disney is trying to do the right thing. Feel free to check out the statement from Bob Iger's Twitter for yourself.