Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger took a clear swipe at predecessor Bob Chapek Tuesday, saying the company he left him to run had more problems than he’d anticipated.
Iger – who previously served as the CEO from 2005 to 2020 – took over from fired ex-boss Bob Chapek in November after two years of complaints from fans. He has since had his contract extended through 2026, when he plans to re-retire.
Chapek, now 63, reportedly told a friend that his tenure as CEO had been ‘about three years of hell,’ during which he had always been afraid that Iger wanted his old job back.
Iger and Chapek had a notoriously tense relationship as the latter prepared to take over the company and it appears Iger’s thoughts about the man he used to be a mentor to haven’t softened.
‘I knew that there were a myriad of challenges… I must say there were many more of them than I expected,’ said Iger at a company event in New York.
Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger (pictured left) took a clear swipe at predecessor Bob Chapek (pictured right) Tuesday, saying the company he left him to run had more problems than he’d anticipated
Iger was short on details but said the next year will be devoted to building a ‘modern version of the Walt Disney Company’ to help recover from Chapek’s mistakes.
Chapek was axed in late 2022 after receiving several internal complaints from senior staffers that the exec was running the company into the ground, people familiar with the matter have revealed.
Among those to air such concerns was Disney’s Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarty, who the insiders said was among many to find Chapek, 62, unfit for the role, CNBC reported.
The shakeup reportedly left Chapek ‘blindsided,’ the sources said, bringing his 11-month tenure as head exec to a premature close after a series of errors and woke controversies cratered the firm’s share price.
The revelation regarding senior leadership’s dissatisfaction with the short-lived CEO coincides with previous reports of staffers alleging Chapek had mishandled the company since assuming the position in February 2022.
Between then and Chapek’s ouster, Disney share prices have fell drastically, by roughly 40 percent – losses further compounded by a more than $10billion deficit incurred during the pandemic.
Disney shares rocketed by six per cent by the closing bell after Chapek left, as investor hopes grew that the return of Iger would signal a more stable period for the scandalized corporation.
The company’s poor performance under Chapek has been blamed on factors ranging from an unsuccessful pivot to the streaming sphere with Disney+, and his hesitance to speak out against a Florida bill that banned LGBTQ discussions for students younger than 10.
Iger was short on details but said the next year will be devoted to building a ‘modern version of the Walt Disney Company’ to help recover from Chapek’s mistakes
That, coupled with the disappointing financial results as well rising ticket prices for its theme parks, saw Disney decide to pull the plug on their new head exec, who was initially tapped to take over the position permanently.
Earlier Tuesday, the company warned its investors that the company’s products and political views may not align with what viewers want – and risk harming its bottom line.
In a public financial filing for the fiscal quarter ending in September, the corporation acknowledged the risks it is taking ‘relating to misalignment with public and consumer tastes and preferences for entertainment.’
Disney has struggled of late to successfully pitch its costly films to audiences, losing a reported $1billion on its last four high-profile releases.
Most recently, the House of Mouse delayed the release of its $330 million Snow White reboot by a year after star Rachel Zegler sparked fury with a woke rant against the 1937 original and vowed that the remake would be more progressive.
The company’s SEC filing, which is submitted so that investors, analysts, and regulators have a clear idea of how the company is performing, said Disney’s success ‘depends on our ability to consistently create compelling content.’
When creators ‘do not achieve sufficient consumer acceptance,’ profits fall, the report warned.
During an investor meeting in September Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company will ‘quiet the noise’ around culture issues, focus on making content that is entertaining
The House of Mouse announced a lengthy delay for the release of its live-action Snow White remake – the film is likely being retooled to be less ‘woke’
‘Further, consumers’ perceptions of our position on matters of public interest, including our efforts to achieve certain of our environmental and social goals, often differ widely and present risks to our reputation and brand,’ it added.
Disney has been embroiled in several political controversies in recent years that have illustrated to some parents and consumers that the brand’s values may no longer align with their own.
Notably, the company took a strong position against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Parents’ ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill – actually called the Parents’ Bill of Rights – that bans sexual and gender curricula for public elementary school students. The company has since continued releasing agenda-driven content.
Iger assured investors in September that he will strive to ‘quiet the noise‘ around the company’s involvement in cultural issues because it has shown to be bad for business. But that quieting has evidently not yet occurred.
GOP Senator Ted Cruz, who is often vocal on culture war issues, reacted to the corporate disclosure on a recent episode of his podcast ‘Verdict‘, calling the filing ‘stunning.’
He argued that Disney’s acknowledgement of the current disharmony between its products and its consumers is indicative of the huge amount of money the company has lost on its recent progressive endeavors.
‘The phrase go woke, go broke, Disney has sadly embodied that phrase, I am sure Walt Disney is spinning in his grave at horrors to what has happened to his namesake,’ he said.
He added that including the issue in the disclosure means the current and projected losses the company is taking are ‘so significant’ that ‘their lawyer said dammit, you have to acknowledge this in the disclosure or else you will be sued for misleading investors.’
‘In other words, we must write these words so that when investors sue us and say your executives are putting your woke politics ahead of profitability … they want to be able to point to this disclosure and say, no, no, sorry, you invested, and we told you up front.
‘We don’t care about making a buck. Our politics is all we care about,’ he said.
The iconic brand, once an unassailable family company, has admitted to being out-of-step with its consumers politics
The company has posted a $1billion loss on its last four big film releases, indicating that audiences are buying what they’re selling at the moment
However, somewhat optimistically, Cruz said Disney is, to some extent, admitting that it does not want to continue spending money to tell stories that its audience is not interested in consuming.
That theory is at least partially evidenced by Disney’s decision announced late last month to push the release date of Snow White by a full year, possibly to retool parts of the story that consumers reacted negatively to online.
Over the summer, the film received negative attention after it was revealed by DailyMail.com that the Seven Dwarfs- iconic roles in the original film – were to be replaced by seven ‘magical (non-dwarf) creatures’ in an effort to keep the storytelling in line with the 21st century’s commitment to political correctness.
The ‘creatures’ were seen on the set of the movie and included a mix of men and women of different sizes and ethnicities, with one real dwarf among them.
But in an October publicity shot, Snow White, played by Rachel Zegler, is seated and surrounded by seven CGI dwarfs – the diverse ‘creatures’ nowhere to be seen.
It is unclear precisely what Disney is planning to do with the ‘magical creatures’ and original dwarfs.
But even beyond the controversy about the dwarfs, several months ago, a handful of clips of Zegler speaking about the movie in a way audiences detested began to circulate.
Interviews showed Zegler making derogatory claims about the original Snow White movie and chastising the main character for her dated values.
Not only did the 22-year-old admit that she ‘hated’ the original 1937 movie, she also described the film’s Prince as a ‘stalker’ and branded the storyline ‘weird.’
‘I just mean that it’s no longer 1937. She’s not going to be saved by the prince and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love,’ Zegler Variety a year ago.
‘She’s dreaming about becoming the leader she knows she can be and the leader that her late father told her that she could be if she was fearless, fair, brave, and true.’
Zegler was roundly criticized for her flaky feminist views and over-the-top negative opinions about the original Snow White movie
Pictured over the summer, the seven ‘magical creatures’ who were supposed to be the more politically correct replacement for the dwarfs
Speaking again at the Disney D23 Expo in California in September 2022, Zegler – best known for her breakout role in West Side Story’ – she said: ‘The original cartoon came out in 1937, and very evidently so. There’s a big focus on her love story with a guy who literally stalks her. Weird! Weird! So we didn’t do that this time.
‘We have a different approach to what I’m sure a lot of people will assume is a love story just because we cast a guy in the movie,’ Rachel continued, referring to Andrew Burnap.
‘All of Andrew’s scenes could get cut, who knows? It’s Hollywood, baby!’ she joked, before admitting in a separate interview that she was ‘scared’ of the original 1937 film.
‘I was scared of the original version. I think I watched it once and never picked it up again. I’m being so serious,’ she said.