Sunday brought shocking news: Bob Chapek, who only two yeas ago replaced the outgoing Bob Iger as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, was out. Who was in? Bob Iger, again. The sudden switcheroo sent shockwaves across an already uncertain industry, and at a company that had inexplicably fallen on tough(ish) times. But what was the reason — or reasons — for the sudden move?
Disney has not publicly commented on their decision, but it’s not hard to suss out some reasons. Around the top of the list is the company’s disastrous earnings announcement held recently on November 8. As per The New York Times, the report found one of the biggest corporations in the world coming up short on both revenue and earnings per share. Indeed, they had lost some $1.5 billion in losses at its streaming division, which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN, and which had been up $630 million this time last year.
To make matters worse, Chapek then held a call with investors, ostensibly to allay their fears. It did not go well. Investors were struck by Chapek’s happy-go-lucky demeanor, which felt tone deaf given the grim news. At one point he gushed about the response to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, a Disney World event that had not exactly set the world on fire. The call contributed to Disney shares dropping 12% the following morning.
Over his relatively brief tenure, Chapek made a number of unpopular business decisions. His decision to release certain films in theaters and on Disney+ (at a PVOD price) simultaneously proved chaotic. Scarlett Johansson famously sued the company over her pay for her solo MCU venture, Black Widow. (It was later settled.) Meanwhile, devotees of Disney theme parks were nonplused about price increases, which they claimed were mere nickel and diming.
It certainly didn’t help that Chapek had an arguably even more notable critic: Bob Iger, who in the last few months has reportedly made no secret of his disappointment with his successor. He even said he was “devastated” by the direction he was taking his beloved former — and now current — company.
How different Disney will be under its old leadership in very different times remains to be seen.