Imagine knowing you’re about to star in something so successful that you confidently turn down $2 million in favour of royalties.
That’s exactly what happened to Jason Weaver, the actor who provided the singing voice for young Simba in The Lion King way back when in 1994.
Luckily for young Jason, his mum knew there was a strong possibility her son would make far more money than the flat rate Disney was offering him – if she could get it to negotiate royalties, that is.
You can watch the trailer for the original Lion King below:
Ever since the release of the 1994 film, Weaver has been collecting royalties for his work thanks to his mum’s negotiations, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Speaking to Vlad TV, the actor and singer explained how he was initially offered a flat rate:
I remember it was like $2 million. You gotta remember, they’re coming off of Beauty and the Beast. They’re coming off of Aladdin. Disney had bread.
Because of Disney’s prior successes, Weaver’s mum decided it would be a bigger benefit for her son in the long run if she was able to get a deal on royalties, as the company’s initial offer did not mention these.
Because of his mum’s smart thinking, the actor was eventually able to walk away with $100,000 upfront and a share of the royalties.
He went on to say:
Disney had a reputation for re-releasing stuff. I think at that time they had put out Sleeping Beauty and some of their old catalogue from when Walt Disney was alive.
They were releasing that stuff when they were releasing the new Disney stuff, so she [his mum] was able to see the playing field and go, ‘Wait a minute, this is going to make a lot of money over time, so what happens when my son turns 40? Is he going to be able to get a check for this when they eventually re-release this?’.
Weaver’s choice was certainly the right one; with the film amassing a grand total of $968,483,777 worldwide since its release more than two decades ago, the actor says he has more than made up for turning down the initial offer of $2 million.
You can watch the interview in full below:
Particularly because of the release of the new film earlier this year, which resulted in masses of people rewatching the original and therefore resulted in more cheques being written to Weaver.
In his own words: ‘That residual income, man that sh*t is so helpful. Even nowadays, when I get a cheque for The Lion King, I’m like f*ck yes!’
I’m not jealous at all…
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).