Bob Chapek “killed the soul of Disney” according to Bob Iger
The ex-boss of the studios is delighted to return, and has not stopped criticizing the direction of his replacement since his establishment.
We learned last weekend dismissal of Bob Chapek, who had been at the head of Disney studios since the beginning of 2020, and the return of his predecessor, Bob Iger, who had led the firm since 2005. A surprise in form (announcing the immediate replacement of the leader of such a company on a Sunday is rare), but not so much on the merits, Chapek multiplying the scandals since his arrival at the controls of Disney. Moreover, a portrait of the two men published by the wall street journal suggests that Iger was not hiding to criticize his replacement, at work and in public. It even happened to him so often that “it was getting awkward”, we read in this article provided in precise details. Moreover, he did not hesitate to express his doubts and/or his anger directly to members of the “board”, the committee making major decisions at Disney. For example by repeating to them that his successor “killed the soul of Disney”.
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We thus learn that Iger was not only in disagreement with Chapek about the development of the Disney+ streaming service to the detriment of cinemas (an idea justified in part by the closure of the latter due to the global epidemic of Covid-19): he also criticized him for having increased the prices of amusement parks when they reopened. A fervent defender of the idea that Disneyland, Disney World and the others should remain accessible to middle-class families, he never ceased to get angry with Chapek on this subject. As well as his wish to dismiss the employees of these same parks when they had to temporarily close their doors, without offering them compensation or monitoring their mutual insurance. However, this was possible in the United States while waiting a few weeks for the signature of the “Cares Act” by the US Congress. Chapek, who had previously been in charge of this branch of the studio, did not want to wait, so Iger ended up making this decision for him by convincing the “board” not to fire anyone until this law is passed. It was at the very beginning of Chapek’s takeover.
This first disagreement was therefore followed by that concerning the posting of several of the firm’s blockbusters on Disney+, in particular the production of Marvel. Black Widowwhich led to the anger of its star, Scarlett Johansson. She was to receive bonuses in the event of success in the cinema, but the levels notified in her contract were impossible to achieve with this type of half-cinema / half-streaming broadcast. Openly expressing her anger, she urged Bob Chapek and his direct colleagues to deal with this conflict quickly so as not to lose face publicly. Not to mention that this strategy of highlighting streaming has its limits: if Disney+ has started better than expected, the platform will only be profitable in 2024, because for the moment, its production costs are higher than the increase of its subscriptions: the Marvel and Star Wars series are particularly expensive to produce, which explains this loss of money despite good results.
There is also the controversy linked to the proposed law “Don’t Say Gay” in Florida, which had been financially supported by Chapek. By wanting to justify himself to his employees, he took a major backlash from artists at Pixar, who accused management of always seeking to censor any LGBTQIA+ element in their animated films. Here too, the boss backtracked and a few days later, a deleted scene from Buzz Lightyearshowing a lesbian couple, has been restored.
The Disney+ streaming platform will launch its low-cost version with advertising
Chapek’s latest controversial release concerns his approach to animation, one of Disney’s flagship branches. In addition to releasing some of the recent Pixar straight to streaming (Luca, Soul, Red Alert), he explained in October that according to him, Disney was not intended to make animated films for adults, justifying in a video interview with the wall street journal : “I always say that once our audience has put their children to bed, after watching Pinocchio, Dumbo Where The little Mermaid, they are probably not going to recover an animated film. They will want a program for them.” These remarks were received by a large part of the fans of Disney productions as proving the total discrepancy between the vision of the man at the head of the studio compared to what the firm has been offering to the public for decades. And so in relation to what viewers expect from a “Disney movie”. Not to mention that this announcement was accompanied by another concerning new imminent layoffs internally.
All these stories saw Disney fall on the stock market: at the beginning of November, the share price fell for the first time below the symbolic bar of 100 dollars. Since the rehiring of Iger, it has risen again by 8%. The article states that the “board” had been thinking of having Chapek replaced since February, at the time of the scandal of “Don’t Say Gay”, and that this decision was finally made in the week just before the date of the announcement, on Sunday, November 20. Bob Iger was offered the job on Friday, November 18, and he accepted immediately, which explains why the announcement was made over the weekend. He immediately wrote to his teams, and has since communicated on his happiness to be back at the helm of the studio on social networks, such as today on Twitter: “I am filled with gratitude and anticipation to be back at Disney.”
—Robert Iger (@RobertIger) November 28, 2022
It is not yet known whether the dismissals announced a few days ago by Bob Chapek will be maintained by Iger, who has so far fired one person from the group: Kareem Daniel, the head of its media department. At 71, however, he should only stay at the helm for a few months, the time to make the link with the future boss of the firm.
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