A second Lion King movie is due for release this month and wildlife conservationists are urging Disney to share its billion-dollar profits to fund wild lion conservation in Africa.
Projections suggest that the photorealistic animated remake of the original 1994 Disney film is set to make over USD $200 million dollars in its opening weekend and top the USD $8 billion dollars grossed by the original Lion King franchise.
Disney has announced that while it has already donated USD $1.5 million to the Lion Recovery Fund it plans to raise USD $1.5 million through its “Protect the Pride” campaign, totalling a USD$ 3 million donation to lion conservation.
But conservation groups are calling this a “shamefully cheap gesture”, saying that USD $1.5 million is less than 0.02% of the Lion King franchise profits and that the Disney Conservation Fund donations since 1995, a total of USD $13 million, is less than 0.2% of Lion King profits.
“The number of wild lions has plummeted by 42% since the release of the original Lion King movie in 1994, despite the world’s love affair with this iconic and majestic animal,” says Donalea Patman, director of For the Love of Wildlife. “If Disney truly revered the King they would be committed to their survival in the wild (and) sharing their massive profits.”
In a letter addressed to Disney CEO, Robert Iger, non-profit organisations For the Love of Wildlife, Blood Lions and Nature Needs More are calling on Disney to re-evaluate and increase its contribution from the Lion King blockbuster to lion conservation.