Original Young Simba from 'The Lion King' reveals he turned down £1.6m fee for royalties

Ben Arnold
Jason Weaver was the singing voice of Simba (Credit: Disney)

Jason Weaver, the actor and singer who provided the singing voice for Young Simba in the original Lion King, says he turned down a massive $2 million (£1.6 million) fee for the role.

Instead, he recalls that his mother negotiated royalties from the movie instead and took a relatively modest $100,000 (£81,000) payment upfront, so they could 'play the long game'.

And while he doesn't say how much he has made from the Disney classic over the years, he confirms that it was 'absolutely' the right decision.

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Speaking to Vlad TV (via Yahoo Movies US), he said: “That amount of money, to an average middle class family in Chicago in the early 90s, I mean ... that’s something. But immediately, my mom goes, ‘Wait a minute'.

Jason Weaver attends 2019 Wanderluxxe Pre-Emmy Diversity Luncheon at Craig's Restaurant on September 21, 2019. (Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

“She was like 'nah, let's negotiate royalties'. This was at a time that Disney wasn't doing those kind of deals. They knew, and forecasted, that they were gonna make a s**t ton of money.

“Disney had a reputation for re-releasing stuff. She was able to see the playing field and go 'wait a minute, this is going to make a lot of money over time, and what happens when my son turns 40? Is he still going to be able to get a check when eventually they re-release this?' Sure enough, she was absolutely right.”

Asked if he made more than the $1.9 million he turned down, he replied: “Over time, yes. I make sure I give my mother props and credit for that. I she hadn't done that, it would have been one of the biggest mistakes of my career.”

The original movie made $968,483,777 (£786m) at the box office on its release in 1994, making it the highest-grossing animated movie ever at the time.

2019's CGI remake went on to make $1.6 billion ($1.3 billion).