Bob Iger returns by surprise to the head of Disney: Bob Chapek is dismissed

The studio boss from 2005 to 2020 is back.

A little less than three years ago, on February 25, 2020, we learned thata Bob was going to replace another at the head of the Disney studios : Bob Igerchairman of the group since 2005, gave way to Bob Chapek, one of the leading figures of the firm, who had evolved there for 20 years and was just before this promotion the manager of parks, experiences and derivative products of the brand. Surprise : variety revealed that night that Bob Iger would eventually return to front the band.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including keeping the company afloat during these times of pandemic, which have represented an unprecedented challenge, writes Susan Arnold, head of the committee which has just re-elected her predecessor to this post. Our committee concluded that Disney was embarking on another significant period of industry transformation, and determined that Bob Iger would be the only one who could lead the company during this pivotal period.”
Iger, for his part, wrote an email to all his employees to announce his return, with “an immense sense of gratitude and humility, but also, I have to admit, a bit of surprise.” He goes on to salute all the branches of the studio that are doing well: “When I look at all of the success of our teams within our studios, I’m talking about entertainment in general, ESPN, international, the rapid growth of our streaming services, the phenomenal rebound of our parks, the continuous quality work from ABC News… of all these successes in our business, I am amazed at all that you have been able to put in place, and I look forward to embarking on new challenges. this company has asked a lot of you over the past three years, and the current times are certainly challenging as well, but as you’ve heard me say many times, I’m an optimist, and if I’ve learned one thing from my years at Disney, it’s that even in the face of uncertainty, perhaps even especially in this case, our employees know how to achieve the impossible.”

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Bob Iger back for the centenary
Chapek’s departure comes a few weeks after his declarations concerning the future of Disney, which may have scared investors and the stock market, where the group has recorded weaker scores than usual in recent months (it a few days ago, the share price notably fell below the symbolic bar of 100 dollars). In September, in parallel with the D23 convention, he said in variety : “The next 100 years of Disney will be more expensive than the first 100, in reference to the fact that the centenary of the studio will be celebrated in 2023. The elasticity of the band is incredible, the Disney with a capital D. Each component of our company, be it Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, ESPN, ABC… has its own identity. But they need to grow beyond what Disney is. And the ultimate arbiter of what Disney can be is the fan, the viewer, the visitor. They are the ultimate arbiters.”

If the reign of Bob Chapek is thus cut short, it is undoubtedly because his mandate is in halftone. The man arrived at the head of the studio after years of exponential growth in cinema revenues for the studio, largely thanks to the hits of Marvel at the box office, as well as the acquisition of 20th Century Fox, a big blow for Disney. Bob Iger left after the successful launch of Disney+, leaving his successor a fit company. But in February 2020, the Covid-19 epidemic grew so much that it was Chapek’s responsibility that amusement parks had to close for several months, as well as cinemas. It was he who officially took the decision to switch certain films directly to streaming, for example Black Widowwhich lead to a highly publicized conflict with the star of the saga, Scarlett Johansson. Whether Disney+ has grown faster than expected in this particular context, the studio recorded significant losses overall, as it explained at the beginning of the month. And its prices have just been increased, the platform also recently offering a cheaper subscription with advertisements.
Bob Chapek was also at the heart of a scandal when he financially supported the holders of a law that wanted to prohibit talking about LGBTQIA + at school in Florida. A decision that angered its employees, especially those at Pixar, who denounced on this occasion the systematic deletion of gay characters/scenes in their animated films. Their post was shared en masse, prompting Chapek to publicly apologize. Since, a scene that had been cut from Buzz Lightning was put back into the film just before its release last June. It was during this period that Chapek saw his contract renewed for three years, but a few months later, the members of the committee finally backtracked by surprisingly announcing the rehiring of Bob Iger.

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