One day after the surprise announcement of Bob Iger’s return to Disney, and the resulting ouster of his successor-turned-president Bob Chapek, a distraught Hollywood is grappling with what exactly the move will mean for the entertainment giant in the short and long term. future.
But while there is no shortage of questions being asked, two things are certain. First, investors are thrilled to once again have it reign over the Magic Kingdom. Disney shares closed up more than 6% Monday on a day when the Dow Jones was marginally lower. Second, Iger moves quickly — and doesn’t wait until a full 24 hours to announce sweeping changes — to unpack Chapek’s reorganization of the company.
The speed with which Iger swoops in is especially remarkable considering Disney’s board of directors only pitched Iger back to the beleaguered company on Friday. “It actually started on Friday and ended on Sunday,” a person familiar with the matter told CNN, adding that Iger “felt obligated to come back because he really cares about the company.”
Now he is already calling the big plays.
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In a memo Monday night sent to employees of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, a key body in the company created by Chapek that has frustrated some of the creators, Iger announced that Kareem Daniel, the division chief and ally of Chapek, “is leaving the company.”
Iger also announced that the entertainment giant will undergo a broader transformation as it returns to leadership. “Over the coming weeks, we will begin to implement organizational and operational changes within the company,” Egger wrote to employees. “It is my intention to restructure things in a way that honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are.”
Iger added that he had asked Dana Walden, Alan Bergman, Jimmy Pittaro, and Christine McCarthy to “work together on designing a new structure that puts decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and justifies the costs.” The goal, Egger said, “is to put the new structure in place in the coming months.”
Outside of Iger’s rehashing of Chapek’s order, the Disney chief could also undo another major decision Chapek made just weeks after it went into effect: the Disney+ price increase. Iger launched Disney+ for just $6.99 a month, and as CNBC’s Alex Sherman reports, his strategy has been to “slowly raise prices over time.” However, Chapek abandoned this method of working earlier this year when it raised the price to $10.99 per month.
Looking ahead, bigger questions abound: What will Disney look like when Iger’s two-year deal expires? How will Iger position and reshape the company for the digital age? Could he make a move to ditch ABC and the broadcast division? Or perhaps executing a huge deal to eat a company like Netflix? Or will Disney itself be eaten by a big tech giant like Apple?
A source at a high-profile talent agency noted that the biggest question Iger will have to answer is how he will “top the last of his run as CEO.”
“The world is a much more complex place than it was a few years ago, and it will be difficult to live up to the reputation he has built as the most amazing media CEO ever,” said the source. “And he will have a short path to satisfying Wall Street, its employees, creative partners, and the public.”
“So much for coming out on top.”
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