Disney CEO: “Don’t Expect to See [Song of the South] Again”

Disney’s annual shareholder meeting was held this year on March 23rd in Salt Lake City, Utah. Once again, Disney CEO Robert Iger has dismissed the possibility of releasing Song of the South on DVD. Since 2006, shareholders have annually raised the question at every shareholder meeting. In 2006 and 2007, Iger assured shareholders that they were taking another look at the film due to the “numerous requests” they received. By 2008, however, his tone began to change, and by 2010, he was calling the movie “antiquated” and “fairly offensive”. And now, for 2011’s response—shareholder Matthew Hansen was able to squeeze in the meeting’s final Q&A question:

Hansen: My name is Matthew Hansen; I’m a shareholder here locally. This year is a large anniversary for one of Disney’s classic films. Disney restoration team artistic supervisor Dave Bossert recently said, ‘There’s been a lot of internal discussion about it, and at some point we’re going to do something about it. I don’t know when, but we will. We want people to see it because we realize it’s a big piece of company history and we want to do it the right way.’ With this year being the 65th anniversary of Song of the South, I was wondering when we might see that. [Applause]

Iger: [laughs] We almost got through the meeting! I thought you were going to say it’s the 60th anniversary of Peter Pan, I was kind of hoping for that. I said last year at our shareholder’s meeting that I had watched Song of the South again and, even though we’ve considered from time to time bringing it back, I didn’t think it was the right thing for the company to do. It was made in a different time. Admittedly you could use that as context, but I just felt that there are elements to the film, while it was a relatively good film, that wouldn’t necessarily sit right or feel right to a number of people today. And, just felt that it wouldn’t be in the best interest of our shareholders to bring it back, even though there would be some financial gain. Sometimes you make sacrifices on the financial side to do what you believe is right and that’s an example of that.

Hansen: Would it be possible to have, kind of how they have the Disney exclusive videos that aren’t available in stores?

Iger: I just don’t feel that it’s right for us to use company resources to make it available, whether it’s wide or whether it’s narrow… narrowly available. It’s a strong belief that I have— consulted with other top executives of the company. They all agreed, and I think, just remember it as it was, and don’t expect to see it again for… at least for awhile, if ever.

So there you have it, folks. An audio archive of the shareholder meeting is available here:
http://a.media.global.go.com/investorrelations/Disney_2011_ASM.mp3

Special thanks goes out to Matthew for posing the question, and for notifying me!

Posted in Articles, Rumors, Song of the South | 25 Comments

25 Responses to Disney CEO: “Don’t Expect to See [Song of the South] Again”

  1. Philip Napolitano says:

    This is arrogant they could put a disclaimer on it in the beginning I Bought a DVD the other day
    it was a Loonie Tunes cartoon, and it was on it saying though this may be out dated we are leaving
    it as is, so as not to destroy the movie

  2. Jeffrey Godcharles says:

    Just doesn’t make sense. My family loves the movie. Our daughter saw it for the first time
    at four years old. She is six now, and still loves it. Nothing we had to warn her about, just
    a nice story with cartoons in it. Why would they have the Splash Mountain ride from the movie
    but never release the movie it is related to? Don’t Disney patrons wonder? If they never have
    seen it, they should wonder what is so bad that it isn’t available. Really that bad with all of the
    media that there is in today’s day and age? I don’t think so. I had my hopes up. At least it is
    available over the internet very easily and affordable. Disney could clean it up some and make
    some money, but they don’t want to. too bad. I own 2 copies already.

    • spike says:

      Hi,
      I would like to contact you privately “to exchange thoughts” about the movie. If you accept, just leave a note her
      and I’ll send you my e-mail
      Spike

  3. sRw says:

    Well, this news makes my laserdisc of the film that much more important to me. These Disney people are so damned ignorant; let’s trash the negative of “Gone With The Wind” while we’re at it, too. If they don’t want to issue the movie, then they should sell the negative to someone who WILL preserve it, and then they don’t have to use any of their precious compnay resources to do anything save cash the cheque.

    • mike irish says:

      can you burn me a VHS or a DVD of that lazer disc? I have been trying to locate this movie for a very very very long time…..

  4. Jordan says:

    I really hope they realese this movie one day. I mean there are more racist movies in the past that have seen the light of day: i.e Birth of a Nation, Gone with the wind, a lot of old looney tunes cartoons from the 40s and so on. I mean Song of the South in my mind isn’t racist. I think it’s a classic and should be released for all generations to see.

  5. Jeff says:

    This is just another one of Iger’s “prepared” statements”. The folks at Disney continue to play this game of chicken and “over political correctness”. Maybe people should continue to bootlegg the film on youtube or other sites. If the FBI and MPAA arrest them, get the lawyers ready to counter sue Disney to get this film released.

  6. kyle blanchette says:

    I remain firm by my opinion that ”song of the south” is much less offensive than ”Peter Pan”. Yet the company has received nary any backlash toward it. By withholding the film, bootleggers are made wealthier, and a cynical public is given more ammo with which to mud-sling Disney. I don’t like watching the movie ”Dinosaur”. But I am saved by the grace of God that I have the option to… Gee, I dunno…us NOT WATCH IT! How hard is that? As for its ‘antiquated’ quality, I say three words: Morgan Freeman Disclaimer. Maybe Leonard Maltin or Iger, but I elect Freeman. There are so many solutions to this issue that I cannot fathom Iger’s reluctance. The Br’er characters at the parks have become the proverbial elephant in the room, since Disney refuses to openly discuss it. Shall I draw comparisons to ”The Talk” with your kid when I add: ‘It’s time to address the issue. We can’t ignore it any longer. So let’s clear the awkward air, talk it out, and at least that way you’ll be informed.” I’m sorry, but Iger’s rationales are weak and unsupported.

  7. Medley says:

    That’s like refusing grade-school children to experience “To Kill A Mockingbird” in my opinion.

  8. Kristal McBee says:

    I really want a copy of this movie. I can’t believe Disney would be so selfish not to release it. I bet Walt would turn over in his grave. He put the movies and music out there for all to enjoy!

    • Phyllis H. says:

      We got our dvd copy on ebay pretty cheap and it also came with “So Dear to My Heart” :D. I then burned a copy of each n gave em to my friends son for his 5th birthday. U should all check ebay among other places online! 😀

  9. Linda says:

    We can watch blood and cuts all over the TV. See horrorfying news from the front lines. The bodies
    of the fallen from 9-11. CSI shows. Cold Case files. Brutality in the streets of our cities. The
    wreckage of the car with Princess Di. We can choose to watch or not to watch as a teenage vampire
    kills his prey. But we are deniged Song of the South. I watched it as a little girl in the 50’s. I
    absolutly loved it. It had great impact on how I grew up to respect people of color. To see that all
    people are the same. No matter their race or believes. We hear the music on our favorite radio
    stations. I employ you to please release this movie. Now is the perfect time to use this as a
    teaching tool to instill in the minds of our children love, respect, and uniformity in cultures. God
    made us all. Not to regulate each other but to be open to the each others way of life. To accept each
    other as brothers and sisters. To help each other. The leasons learned from this great film will
    follow a person for life.
    I am 1 of 10 children that watched this film. We all have great respect for others of the planet we
    all call home. I believe it was because we were (at one time) allowed to watch this film. Please
    bring it back. I truely want it in my collection of Disney Movies. And to show it to my Children and
    Grand Children.

  10. Mark Sweazy says:

    Give the film to Criterion. They understand the significance of film preservation.

  11. Kevin says:

    weather that’s a good thing for him to say, or a bad thing, either way, I’ll never know…,
    but I hope he still looks forward to changing his mind, giving us fans what we want, and
    do what is right, even if it’s not in his heart, or in theirs

  12. timothy poff says:

    I SEEN THIS MOVIE AS A KID AND TO THS DAY CAN NOT UNDERSTAND WHY RELEASING THIS MOVIE TO THE PUBLIC IS BAD IF ITS BECAUSE OF SLAVERY IDEA WE ALL KNOW WHAT A CLASSIC ROOTS IS GLORY AND OTHER FILMS ABOUT THAT TIME PERIOD WE ARE ADULTS AND SHOULD BE ABLE TO REGULATE OURSELVES ABOUT THE MORAL OF THIS MOVIE

  13. judy bowling says:

    I saw Song of the South years ago and loved it!! When I had children I looked for the movie to buy so they could enjoy watching it as much as I did. After searching for a long time, I question someone about why I couldn’t find this movie to buy. I was surprised when I was told that it wouldn’t be released because, some people thought it was racist. I was shocked!! This movie was such a feel good movie and I never thought of it as anything else… It’s a shame!! Of all the dumb and pointless movies that were and are made, children have been denied this wonderful movie!! My children are all grown up and I’m a middle age woman still waiting to watch this movie again!! I loved it so much and remember smiling through the whole movie!! Please release it!!

  14. Thomas Judd says:

    I and all the neighbor kids grew up on this fare and I want my grandkids to see it. I lived in a predominately black neighborhood, we all watched it at the movies and and on television later, we all had a good laugh at the antics of the characters. I am 60 years old and proud to be the least bigoted white person I know.
    It seems that Walt would turn over in his grave at this insult.

  15. C Jones says:

    Thank you Mr. Iger for keeping this film in the vault. I’ve seen it and it is as offensive as the stories it is based on. The ideal of the happy slave, whistling and singing while they do back breaking work under the watchful gaze of some savage overseer is ludicrous! The stories were written by a southern plantation worker and news writer, supposedly from slave folklore. Hogwash! These are the creation of a culture immediately after the civil war that was setting up Jim Crow and had a very negative opinion of blacks. And it shows in that racist movie! Burn the negative so this conversation ends now!!!

    • kyle blanchette says:

      What you see as a movie filled with hate and segregation, we SOTS fans see a work of art portraying love and unity. Your point is no less valid than mine. First Amendment right and all that. But if you don’t like it, don’t watch it. I won’t impede on your right to watch your favorite movies if you don’t impede on mine.

  16. Bo says:

    How can we remember it as it was if we can’t see it? What a worthless, gutless exec.

  17. Norma Wright says:

    You are cheating children out of watching a beloved old man tell some of the greatest stories ever read. I think it should be brought back. If you think this movie would offend anyone, watch Youtube or just listen to your radio. These filthy mouths really put down any race or any nation. We love Uncle Remis regardless and so does our children today.

  18. steve peregrin says:

    8/20/2011

    As an ex-Disneylander I had the privledged of meeting and speaking to both Walt and Roy Disney and thanked them and thanked them for their wonderful imagination and creativity. I have never known them to be
    a racist but someone who wanted to give the public happiness. It is sad that Iger is
    so misguided and ignorent. It appears he is the one who may an issue with racism. If anyone is
    offended by the film “Song of the South” it is becasue they want to be offended. Perhaps Iger
    should step down or be removed from office.

    the public should boycott all Disney films.

  19. sean says:

    i love songs of the south i am lucky to live in the UK and have a copy of this wonderful feel good film the part witch i think is sad is when ginny gets pushed in the mud and crys so much and my Favorited part is uncle remus singing zip a de do dah i love all the cartons on it and br’ie rabbit is the best with his tricks and i am 12 years old as well and i just hope disney put it on dvd so it will last forever and over 12 year olds and unger people older people can watch this film walt disney will be spining in his grave and it is a insult to the best black acter ever James Baskett and people who think its racist should not spoil it for overs and if it put on dvd (god willing it will) then they should just not buy it and people who love this fab film can buy 🙂

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