Since he was reinstated as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger has made a lot of promises–many of them having to do with avoiding politics, calming the culture wars, creating without an “agenda,” and, of course, righting the financial ship at Disney. So far, he’s 0 for 4.
At least one journalist has suggested that CEO Bob Iger “should have stayed in retirement” as “these are not good days for the formerly family-friendly entertainment giant.”
“[Iger] can only blame himself,” reads a post by Bill Donohue. “When he left in 2020 as CEO, he passed the baton to Bob Chapek, but he never really retired. He shadowed Chapek, making it clear to the Disney brass that he was still the man.”
Iger’s First-Round Success is a Thing of the Past
Iger’s first term as CEO at Disney saw many successes. Disney’s stock price made some attractive gains. The company enhanced its portfolio through a series of acquisitions, including PIXAR, Lucasfilm, and Marvel, among others. Many of Disney’s films joined the $1 billion club at the box office, and Disney rolled out its streaming service for the first time. Iger also maintained a successful relationship with Hollywood.
That was in the past.
Since he was reinstated to his former post in November 2022, the experience has been very different for the boomerang CEO. Disney’s stock took a tumble–a serious tumble–to a nine-year low. Though Iger wasn’t at the helm at Disney when the feud with the state of Florida began, he also hasn’t been able to do much in the way of calming the upset, and earlier this year, Disney and the State of Florida sued each other over elements related to the feud that began after Florida passed the Parental Rights in Education law in March 2022.
The profitability of Disney+, the company’s first streaming service, was reportedly found to be illegally inflated by former C-level execs at Disney, and in nearly four years’ time, it has yet to turn a profit. And Disney’s linear television, which CEO Bob Iger referred to over the summer as noncore, is failing, and the veteran CEO has made the tough decision to attempt to sell it.
What’s more, the company has lost nearly $1 billion because of the box office failures of not one, not two, but eight film releases. According to some, one of the reasons for the films’ repeated failures is Disney’s insistence on attempting to oil the squeaky wheels–the activists who want representation and “inclusivity” in everything Disney produces.
Does Disney Realize the Cause of Its Current State?
“Does Disney get it?” reads a post written about Disney’s continued failures and downturn of late. “There are signs that it does, but no one should trust Iger or his henchmen.”
Iger has made a name for himself this go-around, and it’s not the same name he had during his first run as CEO. Last week, Iger and other Disney Company execs hosted investors and Wall Street analysts at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, for its annual investors’ summit, and no matter how you feel about the issue, the truth is that investors were very interested in the “alienation of families” by Disney’s current agenda.
Iger was in a place in which he was unable to avoid the issue. So he attempted to bring about a sense of calm by telling investors that he would “quiet the noise” related to the current culture wars, symbolizing that he gets it–he understands that there is a growing consensus that Disney is running amok, alienating families–and alienating its base–the base that helped The Walt Disney Company continue growing and expanding after Mr. Disney passed away in 1966–the base that cannot and will not be ignored.
Here We Go Again, and This Time, Iger’s Credibility Has Been Derailed
This isn’t the first time Iger has conceded that the Disney Company had gotten off track and needed to stay in its lane. In November 2022, just days after Iger was reinstated as CEO of the company, he held a town hall-style meeting with employees, during which he participated in a question-and-answer session.
In April 2023, Iger told one investor, “Our primary mission needs to be to entertain . . . and to have a positive impact on the world; I’m very serious about that.” He went on to say that Disney’s mission “should not be agenda-driven.” And over the summer, he said during an interview with CNBC, “The last thing I want for the company is for the company to be dragged into any culture war.”
After being asked whether or not Disney would “stay out of making political statements” under Iger’s reinstated tenure, he responded with the following:
“I think there’s a misperception here about what politics is. I think that some of the subjects that have proven to be ‘controversial’ as it relates to Disney have been branded political, and I don’t necessarily believe they are . . . I don’t think that when you are telling stories and attempting to be a good citizen of the world, that that’s political. It’s just not how I view it.”
He further said something identical to what he told investors at last week’s summit: that he would work to “quiet things down” and put his efforts toward becoming neutral when it comes to the continued culture wars.
EXCLUSIVE: I have obtained video from returning Disney CEO Bob Iger's first town hall with employees, in which he signals that he will work to "quiet things down" politically and move toward neutrality in the culture war.https://t.co/ZBGdHhxFVS pic.twitter.com/ZbMCZN4MlG
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) November 29, 2022
That was November 2022. It’s now almost October 2023. Iger is leading the charge but to no avail. And exactly what charge is he leading? If he’s truly working to “quiet things down,” he could have fooled most fans because they simply don’t see that effort.
Disney Company Management’s Arrogance May Be Its Downfall
No one “dragged” Disney into the culture wars—it dove in head first. It’s important to note that no one has “dragged” Disney into any part of the so-called culture wars. If anything, Disney threw the first punch when the State of Florida passed a piece of education legislation–one that had nothing to do with The Walt Disney Company whatsoever. Who does Disney think they are, charging any state government for passing legislation that only affects residents of that state and has zero to do with Disney’s business affairs, operations, tax liability, etc.?
Shame on you, Disney. Again, stay in your lane.
Nearly every week since Iger was reinstated, talk of selling Disney has been the topic of at least a handful of headlines, and according to one post, “If Iger doesn’t tap the brakes on the company’s anti-family fare, the end may come sooner than he thinks.”