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Disney offers US$5m for the Notre-Dame it once immortalised on film

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Disney, which scored millions with the 1996 animated blockbuster "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," said Wednesday it would give US$5 million to restore the fire-damaged Paris cathedral.

"Notre-Dame is a beacon of hope and beauty that has defined the heart of Paris and the soul of France for centuries, inspiring awe and reverence for its art and architecture and for its enduring place in human history," said Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger in a statement.

"The Walt Disney Company stands with our friends and neighbours in the community, offering our heartfelt support as well as a US$5 million donation for the restoration of this irreplaceable masterpiece."

Disney's connection to the storied cathedral includes its 1996 animated hit "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," based on the Victor Hugo novel. The film, with animated incarnations of Quasimodo, Esmeralda and Frollo, sold an estimated US$325 million in tickets worldwide.

The company also manages Disneyland Paris, a 5,510-acre theme park about 20 miles east of the French capital.

The Disney donation is among the first major contributions from a US entity following Monday's blaze, which gutted the grand Paris landmark, destroying the roof, causing the steeple to collapse and leaving France reeling with shock.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook announced the tech giant would give an unspecified amount, while Henry Kravis, co-founder of investment fund KKR and his wife Marie-Josée Kravis, said they would give US$10 million to the project.

The University of Notre Dame in Indiana has also promised US$100,000.

Billionaire Bernard Arnault and his LVMH luxury conglomerate, Total oil company and cosmetics giant L'Oreal also each pledged 100 million euros (US$113 million).

However, the slew of announcements from French giants raised eyebrows in France, with some politicians on the left arguing that the ultra-rich could best help protect the country's cultural heritage by fully paying their taxes — or helping the "human cathedral" of people in need.


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