Actor Jason Weaver on turning down $2 million for ‘The Lion King’ because of his mother

Abu Mubarik March 01, 2023
Jayson Weaver. Photo credit: Vlad TV

Actor and singer Jason Weaver is celebrated for his songs “Hakuna Matata” and “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.” His popularity soared when he performed the singing voice of young Simba in the original animated version of “The Lion King.” 

For his role, he was offered a $2 million paycheck upfront in 1994 but he turned it down in favor of picking up royalties based on the advice of his mother.

“I remember it was like $2 million,” he told Vlad TV in 2019. “You gotta remember, they’re coming off of Beauty and the Beast. They’re coming off of Aladdin. Disney had bread.” He added: “That amount of money to an average middle-class family in Chicago in the early nineties, that’s something.”

His mother asked him to critically examine the deal. She then quizzed, if Disney was willing to pay $2 million, what wasn’t it disclosing or bringing to the table? She proceeded to ask Weaver to negotiate for royalties instead. 

“But immediately my mom goes, ‘Wait a minute, OK, if they’re willing to do that…,” he said, adding, “that’s it, that’s all he’ll ever get, for the remainder of his life?’ “They were like, ‘That’s it, he takes the money, that’s it,’ she was like, ‘No, let’s negotiate royalties.'”

Eventually, she negotiated a deal that gave Weaver $100,000 upfront along with royalties. According to Business Insider, opting for royalties was based on Weaver’s mother’s intuition that Disney will rerelease some of its classics.

“Disney had a reputation for that, like rereleasing stuff,” Weaver said. “I think at that time they had put out maybe even ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and some of their old catalog, when, like, Disney was alive. They were releasing that stuff when they were releasing the new Disney stuff.”

More than 20 years down the line, the intervention of Weaver’s mother has proven to be a smart move — the singer has made more than the $2 million that was initially offered to him. Weaver noted that this would not have been possible without his mother’s advice.

“I make sure that I give my mother her just due props and credit for that because if she hadn’t done that, that would have been one of the biggest mistakes of my career business wise,” he said.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 2, 2023


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