Iger back on top in a Disney plot twist that few saw coming

Nov 20, 2022, 5:44 AM | Updated: Nov 21, 2022, 2:10 pm
FILE - Robert Iger arrives at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," in Los Ange...

FILE - Robert Iger arrives at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," in Los Angeles, on Dec. 16, 2019. The Walt Disney Company announced late Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, that former CEO Iger, would return to head the company for two years in a surprise move. The statement said Bob Chapek, who succeeded Iger in 2020, had stepped down from the position. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, FIle)

(Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, FIle)

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — Bob Iger, the enterprising entertainment executive who brought Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel under the Disney marquee and challenged the streaming dominance of Netflix, will replace his handpicked successor, CEO Bob Chapek, whose two-year tenure has been marked by clashes, missteps and a weakening financial performance.

The stunning development comes two weeks after Disney’s quarterly financial performance fell well short of Wall Street expectations on both profit and revenue, a rarity, sending shares tumbling 12%.

The company’s stock jumped more than 6% Monday, with the appointment of Iger effective immediately. The stock is still down 37% this year.

“It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility — and, I must admit, a bit of amazement — that I write to you this evening with the news that I am returning to The Walt Disney Company as Chief Executive Officer,” Iger, 71, wrote in an email to employees.

The tumult atop Disney came quickly with reports that Iger was first approached by board members about a possible return Friday.

Iger separated completely with Disney near the end of last year after remaining onboard for two years as executive chairman, helping to guide Chapek and to guarantee a smooth transition.

That transition was anything but smooth and on Sunday, Iger agreed to a two year contract to redirect Disney’s trajectory and to help find a new chief executive.

Iger was Disney’s public face for 15 years as chief executive before handing the job off to Chapek in 2020, a stretch in which he compiled a string of victories lauded in the entertainment industry and by Disney fans.

Chapek oversaw Disney during one of the most challenging periods in company history that began with a pandemic and ended, at least under Chapek’s rule, with spiraling inflation.

But his time as chief executive was also marked by what many saw as unforced errors for a company that, under Iger, appeared could do no wrong.

The company based in Burbank, California, became embroiled in a public fight with Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida — where Disney runs the giant Walt Disney World theme park resort — enacted a measure that forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools up to third grade, a rule critics dubbed the “don’t say gay” law.

Chapek remained silent publicly at first, and that ignited an employee revolt. When Chapek then denounced the measure, it kicked off a political backlash with conservative lawmakers and media outlets pushing boycotts and labeling Disney as too “woke.”

Months later Chapek fired Peter Rice, the chairman of Disney General Entertainment Television, among the most highly regarded television executives in the industry. The firing stunned Hollywood and fueled new criticism from investors over Chapek’s leadership.

It was highly unusual for conflicts at Disney to spill into the public sphere but rightly or wrongly, it seemed to be a trait under Chapek.

A fight with one of Hollywood’s top stars went public last year after Scarlett Johansson sued Disney over her pay for “Black Widow.” Johansson’s potential earnings were tied to the box office performance of the 2021 Marvel film, which the company released simultaneously in theaters and on its streaming service Disney+ for a $30 rental.

Over the last several weeks, more doubts were raised over Chapek’s plans to cut costs, including reports of plans for major layoffs, while Disney devotees chafed under price hikes at Disney parks.

“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,” Susan Arnold, Disney’s chairman, said in a prepared statement.

Arnold thanked Chapek for leading the company through the pandemic.

Wall Street applauded Iger’s return.

“We believe there is little doubt that investors will applaud this move,” wrote Citi analyst Jason Bazinet. “The Street likes Mr. Iger almost as much as we do. We view his return as an unalloyed positive.”

Disney said in a filing with regulators Monday that Iger will earn a base salary of $1 million, be eligible for a performance bonus, and get a package of long-term incentives with a target value of $25 million for each year of his contract.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Judge, pot shop robbery...
Associated Press

Washington state man charged in 34-year-old Wisconsin murder

A Washington state man has been charged in the 1988 slaying of a Wisconsin woman after he was identified using "familial DNA searching"
7 hours ago
(Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)...
Associated Press

District to pay $5M over teen’s death at football practice

A Washington school district will pay $5.25 million to the family of a high school student who died from a heart attack during a 2018 football practice.
7 hours ago
FILE - A technician displays images of a mammogram scan on a computer screen at a hospital in Odess...
Associated Press

More breast cancer patients can choose smaller surgery

Many women with two or three breast tumors can get by with lumpectomy surgery instead of having their whole breast removed, a new study suggests. In recent years, more patients with multiple tumors have been identified, a result of more sensitive imaging techniques that can reveal tiny, once-hidden cancers. That means more patients are being […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

SF Conservatory buys Askonas Holt representation agency

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco Conservatory added a major classical music agency to its commercial businesses, announcing Friday it was acquiring London-based Askonas Holt. Askonas’ clients includes conductors Daniel Barenboim, Myung-Whun Chung, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Simon Rattle, Nathalie Stutzmann and Michael Tilson Thomas; sopranos Angel Blue and Eva-Maria Westbroek; mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato; tenors Marcelo […]
1 day ago
A Ukrainian serviceman patrols area near the Antonovsky Bridge which was destroyed by Russian force...
Associated Press

NATO chief fears Ukraine war could widen into wider conflict

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The head of NATO expressed worry that the fighting in Ukraine could spin out of control and become a war between Russia and NATO, according to an interview released Friday.. “If things go wrong, they can go horribly wrong,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in remarks to Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “It […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Bulgarian parliament approves military aid to Ukraine

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgarian lawmakers on Friday approved the country’s first military assistance package to Ukraine involving a classified list of weapons prepared by the government. The National Assembly voted 148-46 with one abstention in favor of the weapons to Kyiv following months of political squabbling on the issue in the Balkan NATO member […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Iger back on top in a Disney plot twist that few saw coming