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Bob Iger In, Bob Chapek Out as Walt Disney Company CEO

The venerated former CEO returns to take the helm less than three years after giving up the reins, a period that has seen the company mired in controversy and a slumping stock price as it has navigated a global pandemic, employee walkouts, and political controversy.

In a surprise Sunday board of directors’ announcement, Bob Chapek has stepped down, and Bob Iger has returned to take the helm once more as CEO of The Walt Disney Company. Iger assumes the role once he left less than three years ago, this time for a two-year term, in the face of ongoing tumult that has seen employee walkouts, political fights, and a stock price drop of 40% this year. The move is effective immediately.

Iger handed the reigns to Chapek after a 15-year run as CEO, a period of unprecedented studio growth – including a fivefold increase in market capitalization - led by key acquisitions including Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and 21st Century Fox, as well as the launch of the company’s streaming platform, Disney+.

While Chapek was tasked with guiding the company through an unprecedented global pandemic that shut theaters and theme parks and brought much of the entertainment production world to a halt, it was a continued series of unforced errors that dogged his time at CEO, including an embarrassing public fight with Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson over box office bonuses negated by the film’s simultaneous streaming and theatrical release; employee walkouts and an eventual fight with Florida governor Ron DeSantis over Disney’s tepid, neutral response to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill that Iger himself tweeted his opposition to; his firing of highly-respected Disney General Entertainment Television chairman Peter Rice; and what eventually led to his ouster, the continued stock price decline. Already, this morning, the stock has jumped 8% at the news of Iger’s return.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board. “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.”

Arnold added, “Iger has the deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago, and he is greatly admired by Disney employees worldwide—all of which will allow for a seamless transition of leadership.”

“I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO,” Iger stated. “Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe—most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration. I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through

Source: The Walt Disney Company

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.