Disney chairman apologizes to P.T.A. asked to pay fee after ‘Lion King’ screening

New York Times:

The chairman of Disney said on Thursday that the company is apologizing to a California elementary school that was asked to pay for a license after it showed “The Lion King” at a fund-raiser organized by students’ parents in 2019.

Robert A. Iger, the chairman, said in a post on Twitter that the company “apologizes to the Emerson Elementary School P.T.A. and I will personally donate to their fund raising initiative.”

The event on Nov. 15 was meant to be a fun night at the movies for students at Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley, Calif., with pizza and a showing of “The Lion King.” Students were encouraged to bring blankets and wear pajamas to the fund-raiser.

But on Tuesday, Emerson’s parent-teacher association said it had been asked by Movie Licensing USA, a licensing company representing Disney, to pay $250 for a screening license, a request that pitted the school against a corporate behemoth and set up a broader conversation about public school funding.

There’s just so much dumb in this story. The school should have known better (you can’t just publicly show a movie without paying the rights holder) and Disney’s legal department handled it in the worst possible way. They could have simply said, “Don’t do it again.” but they ended up embarrassing their company and causing a lot of ill will and hurt feelings.