Sunday, November 20, was not a day in the Disney universe that most people were expecting. While fans had been calling for Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s firing for months, they didn’t expect that it would actually happen. But that’s exactly what did happen. Around 7 p.m. PST, it was revealed that Bob Chapek was out as CEO, effective immediately, and former Disney CEO Bob Iger would be returning to helm the ship after stepping away in 2021.
Not long after the announcement was made, a heartfelt letter from Iger to Disney employees was shared in which Iger expressed his gratitude and surprise about returning.
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.
When I look at the creative success of our teams across our Studios, Disney General Entertainment, ESPN and International, the rapid growth of our streaming services, the phenomenal reimagining and rebound of our Parks, the continued great work of ABC News, and so many other achievements across our businesses, I am in awe of your accomplishments and I am excited to embark with you on many new endeavors.
While Iger was quick to release a statement, Bob Chapek has been quite the opposite. In fact, so far, Chapek has declined to comment at all on his shocking firing. News of Chapek’s departure startled the entertainment industry, so every news source has been asking Chapek to comment. Those requests have gone unanswered, and we don’t know when Chapek will decide to break his silence.
Chapek only led The Walt Disney Company for 2 1/2 years, and nearly his entire tenure was plagued with controversy and anger. Guests felt that Chapek focused too much on the bottom line and not the magic that made Disney the top vacation destination in the world. Multiple petitions were launched to see Chapek fired, commenting on everything from his response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill to the elimination of the FastPass System, the implementation of Disney Genie+, shrinking food portions, price increases, and more.
At this time, Disney has not said how long Iger will continue to lead Disney. Just this past summer, Disney’s Board of Directors extended Bob Chapek’s contract by three years, so it is possible that Iger could stay until the end of Chapek’s contract, giving Disney plenty of time to find his successor. It is also possible that Iger could decide that he loves being Disney CEO and stay as long as he wants.