Bob Iger’s surprise comeback as Disney CEO proves brand makers are hard to replace

Tuesday, November 22, 2022 by Snacks
Old Bob is new Bob with his old job (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Old Bob is new Bob with his old job (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

“Game of Thrones: Magic Kingdom” edition… Disney icon Bob Iger shocked the entertainment industry by announcing he’d return as chief exec for two more years. Iger had stepped down as CEO in 2020 and was replaced by then head of parks Bob Chapek. In June, Disney's board voted to extend Chapek's CEO contract until 2025. But internal complaints from senior execs reportedly prompted a U-turn. Now, Disney’s ousting Chapek while the board looks for a more permanent replacement.

  • “Succession” IRL: Conflicting loyalties may’ve played a role, because Chapek and his inner circle were said to be caught off guard by the decision.
  • Disney shares jumped 6% yesterday, but are down 38% this year. Disney execs say Iger is "uniquely situated" to direct the company at this time.

Mouse House divided… Though Chapek helped Disney survive the pandemic, his tenure featured some public controversies. Last year Scarlett Johansson launched a lawsuit against Disney claiming breach of contract for “Black Widow.” In April, Chapek narrowly avoided a worker revolt following his delayed response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

  • On the #s side: Disney stock experienced its biggest plunge in 21 years this month after its park and resorts revenue underwhelmed and profit disappointed.
  • Disney+ added more subs than forecast, but Disney’s streaming biz posted nearly $1.5B in operating losses.

Brand makers are hard to replace… Iger spent 15 years growing Disney into Hollywood's most powerful media conglomerate. That's the kind of household-name leadership that investors and execs like to bank on in a downturn. We’ve seen it before: Steve Jobs returned to Apple's helm in 1997 after 12 years away, and Starbucks founder Howard Schultz returned in April as interim CEO.

Subscribe to Snacks