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Disney CEO apologizes to elementary school fined for showing 'The Lion King"'at fundraiser

The school faced a $250 fine for “illegally screening” the movie at a “parent’s night out” fundraiser.
Credit: Walt Disney Studios

BERKELEY, Calif. — Disney CEO Bob Iger is apologizing to a California elementary school after they were charged for showing the 2019 remake of the “The Lion King” during a school PTA fundraising event.

Iger issued his apology on Twitter stating: “Our company @WaltDisneyCo apologizes to the Emerson Elementary School PTA and I will personally donate to their fundraising initiative.”

KPIX-TV reports the apology stems from a licensing firm, Movie Licensing USA, which manages licensing’s for Disney and other studios, fining Emerson Elementary School in Berkley, Calif., $250 for “illegally screening” the movie at a “parent’s night out” fundraiser months after the event was held.

The company also noted that the school would be fined an additional $250 per showing of the movie at any future events.

The New York Times reports that a licensing manager with the firm cited copyright law, and noted both a $536 annual licensing option and discounts for multiyear agreements.

Berkley City Council member and Emerson Elementary School parent, Lori Droste, laid out the situation in a series of tweets writing that what the company wanted was “pretty much” what the group had raised at the event.

PTA President David Rose told KPIX that “The event made $800, so if we have to fork over a third of it to Disney, so be it.  You know, lesson learned.” -- while Droste had a different opinion.

“Here you have a company that makes so much money and we have schools that are struggling so much,” Droste said. “What I thought about was just the irony of having a multi-billion-dollar company essentially ask a school to pay up.”

Unfolding more of the saga Droste posted a follow up on Twitter saying that the dad who helped organize the movie night cleared up what happened. According to Droste, the dad bought the movie at Best Buy and donations were not required.

Disney’s 2019 remake of the “The Lion King” grossed $1.6 billion worldwide after its July 19 to Dec. 5 run in theaters. The film currently sits as the eleventh-biggest top lifetime global grosser.

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