Smart Financial Move: Jason Weaver Turned Down $2m in Exchange for Royalties For ‘Lion King’ Role

Life can be unpredictable so you have to be smart about your choices. When opportunities present themselves like they did for Jason Weaver, one needs to take advantage of it and make smart financial moves. We have Jason Weaver’s mum to thank for this, she made sure her son was set for life.

In 1994, Disney released the animated musical, Lion King, which was a global success making over $980 million off a $45 million budget! Fans loved the musical elements of the film and actor/singer, Jason Weaver was a huge part of this. Jason became popular for playing the role of a young Michael Jackson in the biographical miniseries, The Jacksons: An American Dream, after being approached by the legendary Elton John. Jason then became young Simba’s singing voice in the Disney’s blockbuster animation, Lion King, providing us with classics like “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “Hakuna Matata”.

In a recent interview with VladTV, Jason revealed that during negotiations on his behalf for the role of Simba, his mother refused a one-time payment of $2 million check and opted for a chance to get royalties instead. According to Jason the $2 million offer was enticing but his mother could see the vision Disney had with The Lion King and wanted to be a part of it.

“It was so we can play the long game. In her opinion, because that residual income that I generate is so helpful. I make sure I give my mother her just due to props because if she hadn’t done that it would have been the biggest mistake off my business career.”

With this brilliant decision by his mother, they were able to ask for a $100,000 upfront payment and royalty payments for the future. Jason said his mother could see the business pattern of Disney, as they had a reputation for re-producing old stuffs and re-selling them over time, “They were releasing that stuff when they were releasing the new Disney stuff, so she 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?’” and understanding their marketing strategy helped her realise how much money she could make for her son in the long run and she made a very informed decision for her child-actor.

Jason says he has made well over $1.9 million since the release of the original film. In total, the film has grossed over $1 billion (including the 2002 IMAX re-release and the 2011 3D experience). The original songs were also re-recorded for the live-action version released this year. Weaver’s recordings of the song were a part of the film’s soundtrack which currently lives on streaming platforms.

The move made Jason the first new act to get a royalty deal from Disney and reflecting on it he agrees that the role taught him the importance of business in the entertainment industry. Jason has also featured in the following movies, Smart Guy, Lottery Ticket, Drumline, ATL, Love for Sale, The Lady-killers and Dysfunctional Friends.

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