In a stunning piece of development, former Disney CEO Bob Iger has returned to the company as Bob Chapek gets ousted. Very few people, including top executives at the studio, had been informed about the regime change before an email was sent out to the Disney employees breaking the news. This shocking news may come to the pleasure of people who have known that Chapek wasn’t the best choice to run the company since he took over in 2020.
The Hollywood Reporter provides some context from Susan Arnold, Disney’s Chairman of the Board, as she releases a statement on the shocking news.
We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.”
The Board of Directors has added that Iger “has agreed to serve as Disney’s CEO for two years, with a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term.” It was said that the Disney board had been divided on keeping Chapek on as CEO for the past several months.
Chapek was seen as a wrong choice as he has had the reputation of making decisions based on cutting costs over product quality due to his experience running the Disney parks. Earlier this month, his earnings performance had prompted him to draw up a dramatic plan for massive company layoffs and a hiring freeze. Chapek had faced controversy early on, just after he took over, after the decision to stream the Marvel film Black Widow in a tiny window that made the film less profitable in theaters which led to a lawsuit from Scarlett Johannson. As well as his refusal to denounce the Florida “don’t say gay” law, which led to a reversal after staff outcry.
Iger is being seen as someone who can get the company back on track and, even himself said that he accepts the position “with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility — and, I must admit, a bit of amazement.”