The former CEO who presided over such big deals as the acquisition of Lucasfilm and Marvel is now back in the seat, replacing Chapek who has had an embattled period in charge of the company. Despite only signing a new multi-year deal in June 2022 to stay as CEO, Chapek’s reign at Disney will end after 32 months. Hired as CEO in Feb. 2020, and there’s a clear reason why his position was a difficult one.
Disney chairman Susan Arnold thanked Chapek for her services to the company during the pandemic but shared the board’s belief Iger would be “uniquely situated” to lead the company into the future. Chapek had overseen a large focus on streaming and digital methods, but with the pandemic “over” by corporation standards, they see a different future ahead.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. 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.”
Chapek had some cause for concern earlier in 2022 during the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which he was criticized for his inaction on before he became a staunch opponent of the bill. The flip-flopping wasn’t his biggest issue, with his time as CEO also seeing Scarlett Johansson file a lawsuit against Disney over the release of Black Widow on streaming.
Iger returns in what looks like a show of strength, with the former chief executive tasked with rebuilding Disney’s growth and also picking his successor after his two-year tenure is over. Given his reign saw some of Pixar, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm’s biggest hits, there’s a clear reason he’s been brought back.
Whether or not Chapek will remain at Disney in any role is unclear, but his reputation suggests if he does, it’ll be away from creative spheres. Immensely talented with the merchandising and streaming side of Disney, the Black Widow conflict showed he perhaps lacked the knack for Hollywood interactions.