Disney Dumps Chapek, Brings Back Iger

November 20, 2022, 11:05 PM · Bob is gone. Long live Bob.

The Walt Disney Company shocked many observers Sunday evening when it dumped CEO Bob Chapek effective immediately, replacing him with his predecessor, Bob Iger.

Chapek had been Iger's choice as successor, taking over as head of the company in February 2020 - just before everything hit the fan. Chapek saw the company through the Covid lockdowns and the recovery of its theme parks. But mounting losses at the Disney+ streaming service consumed the record profits coming in from the theme park segment, depressing Disney's stock price even as Disney+ signed up millions of subscribers around the world and won acclaim for its programming, including a global livestream of Elton John's farewell concert from Los Angeles this evening.

Lackluster box office following the conclusion of Marvel's Infinity saga and the put-it-out-of-its-misery end of the Star Wars Skywalker saga, coupled with the enduring effect of the Covid pandemic on the theater industry, also has not helped Disney's bottom line.

In turning back to Iger - who ran the company from 2005 to 2020 - Disney's board is putting the company back in the hands of the man who ordered the creation of the streaming service and who led Disney's studios to their greatest commercial success. Iger also is a master of personnel relationships when compared with Chapek - a blunt analyst who wasn't afraid to tell people what they didn't want to hear... but who lacked Iger's unique skill at convincing those people that they did, in fact, want to hear it.

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

"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," Arnold said.

"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 said. "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 unrivaled, bold storytelling."

Iger is said to have an agreement to run Disney for the next two years, at which point we will all go take a ride on the succession carousel once again.

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Replies (30)

November 20, 2022 at 11:08 PM

Just think how all this could have turned out had Tom Staggs not left a few years ago.

November 20, 2022 at 11:19 PM

Well, if nothing else, they’ve definitely scored some short term points for Goodwill.

November 20, 2022 at 11:41 PM

I know theme parks are the focus but I'm hoping more theatrical releases. There's no reason Turning Red, Pinnochio, Hocus Pocus 3 and Disenchanted should not have been released in theaters, even some profit there better than dumping high-budget stuff on Disney+.

November 20, 2022 at 11:52 PM

"Bob is gone. Long live Bob." has Universal thrown shade at Disney yet with a tweet of King Bob from the Minions movie yet?? if not, they should perhaps

November 21, 2022 at 12:07 AM

This is very exciting news. I'll bet Disney's stock price goes up tomorrow.

November 21, 2022 at 12:10 AM

I really expected Iger to be allowed to serve out his current contract through 2024. He really didn’t not seem too interested in having anything major planned for any Disney division (let alone the parks) after that time frame.

I know we shouldn’t expect all the things we have grown to hate in the past two years to disappear overnight (like the paid lightning lanes and park reservations), but we can hope for some sort of improvement in the coming years.

Regardless, goodbye, Chapek, and good riddance! Take that giant golden parachute check I’m sure you are getting and get as far away from Disney as you possibly can!

November 21, 2022 at 12:52 AM

It appeared to me that when Tom Staggs was let go and Bob Chapek became the obvious person that was going to get the job, the reason was because Chapek came in and cut lots of costs and increased the margins at the parks which made him look good and ultimately got him the CEO job. So I was skeptical of Chapek getting the job to begin with and it made me question that Bob Iger knew what was actually going on inside the parks business. TBH I think Iger got lucky that Chapek ended up taking the blame for a lot of things that happened in the parks after he left but were going to happen anyway.

That being said Chapek clearly didn't have the personality for being the front man for a company like Disney. After Walt died the company started a slow downward trajectory and by the time his son in law had been there for a few years it was obvious they needed to go in another direction. Michael Eisner was very much the companies front man for a long time, and eventually when he fell out of favor then Bob Iger was, and he has tried to retire several times and they have never been able to find someone that could step into his shoes

I think the unfortunate incident with Scarlette Johanson represents what Bob Chapek will be remembered for as CEO, picking up pennies and walking over dollars.

November 21, 2022 at 4:10 AM

But, but, but, all those Disneyfans telling me Chapek did fine, and he did, running Disney into the ground. Man he will be missed.
Can't wait to see what Iger is going to buy to fix this...

November 21, 2022 at 6:13 AM

Does this mean less crowded parks more thrilling attractions and less red tape to visit and more reasonable prices - yeah didn’t think so, nothing changes!

November 21, 2022 at 6:38 AM

I guess Bob Chapek won’t be saying “scoreboard” anytime soon.

November 21, 2022 at 7:19 AM

So what exactly is going to change? Will Mr. Iger take a different approach to servicing the company's debt? What will Mr. Iger do differently as it relates to dragging Disney+ out of the red? Will park operations change, or will reservations, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes remain in place? And considering the mountain of debt created when Mr. Iger purchased Fox, can we really expect announcements about the commencement of construction on new attractions?

I mean, other than changing the nameplate on the CEO office door how will this make things substantially different?

November 21, 2022 at 7:24 AM

@TH - Iger is far more easier on the eyes than Chapek ;)

November 21, 2022 at 8:18 AM

@TH - I think this is more of a PR move than anything. You're right in that Iger is unlikely to make any major changes to the way Disney does business, and projects are unlikely to be significantly modified just because Chapek is no longer in the C-suite. However, this move is likely to provide a morale boost to staff, and a positive influence on the board room that will at create warmer vibes about the trajectory of the company even if it remains unchanged under Iger.

Secretly, though, I hope Nelson Muntz was at the door when Chapek let it hit him on the way out.

November 21, 2022 at 8:22 AM

@TH I don’t you’re going to see any significant changes at all, especially considering many of the issues that Chapek dealt with were things that Iger created. But Chapek was such a tone deaf and toxic personality that was so loathed by consumers and employees alike, that things simply weren’t going to improve with him at the helm.

November 21, 2022 at 8:45 AM

@ Russell, I concur.

FWIW: Back in November 2020, I started a discussion thread titled "How long will Bob Chapek be Disney's CEO?" Most of the TPI regs commenting embraced the opinion that Mr. Chapek was a placeholder -- who would not have held the position for 21 years like Michael Eisner or 15 years like Robert Iger

Part of my contribution to that thread was my two cents which reads "From where I sit (and for whatever my opinion is worth) I think Mr. Chapek's tenure will be over by 2025."

Considering Mr. Chapek got a three year contract extension in June 2022, my prediction may well have been on the money. :o)

November 21, 2022 at 10:07 AM

I think the changes that will show up in the parks are clear. Lower ticket, food, hotel, and parking prices. Elimination of Lightning Lane and Genie+. Smaller crowds and no line ever exceeding 10 mins of wait time. Doubling of staff. Vast increase in new attractions and a 5th non-water-based gate in Orlando by 2026. Doubling of size for Disneyland. Rain will only occur overnight after park close and before park opening. Free beer for guests 21+ (a la old school Busch Gardens). Free ponies for kids. A Spiderman ride superior to the one at Universal Orlando. (OK, OK, that last expectation might be wishful thinking.)

November 21, 2022 at 10:22 AM

Regardless how you spin it, according to this article written by Bob, Bob is being replaced by Bob.

Also ... Bob.

November 21, 2022 at 12:01 PM

Hallelujah, yes Timmy there is a Santa Claus.

Absolutely fantastic news, I cannot believe Disney's board acted so decisively. Good lord how much they must be paying Mr. Iger.

November 21, 2022 at 2:46 PM

By the way, once the dust clears, and Mr. Iger moves on (again), I want Roman Roy to takeover as Disney CEO.

November 21, 2022 at 1:01 PM

Given the s-show over at Warner Bros. Discovery at the moment, the Roys might welcome a move next door in Burbank to Disney Plus After Dark.

November 21, 2022 at 1:51 PM

NC Pete, we can dream Iger would lower prices, but that’s not going to happen. What Iger excelled at was acquiring new IPs and allowing development in the parks. Hopefully a “blue sky” idea presented at the last D23 will be fast tracked into reality by Iger and Disney will have a major attraction to open in 2025 to combat Epic Universe.

I also am dreaming of the abolishment of Genie+, park reservations, and the return of Magic Express, but with genie out of the bottle (so to speak) and Disney earning and saving money on perks that used to be free, that’s unlikely to happen.

November 21, 2022 at 2:19 PM

Change Genie+ back to the old maxpass system. Can still charge just as much, but fast/maxpass actually moved people through the lines, whereas--for whatever reason--Genie+ kills both lines. I don't understand why there's such a big difference, but then I don't care--just go back to the old system that makes the lines, and by association, the parks work better.

November 21, 2022 at 3:32 PM

I am not a Disney insider...but i suspect the un spoken relationship ( bad) between chapeck and Susan Arnold had a lot of Weigth in the move. Disney was having problem with branding everywhere becouse of chapeck ( with various degrees of impact ). The reedy creek issue with de santis in Florida and the stock losing ground probably hit the board of director the hardest. And iger was paid with a lot of stock, so i am.not surprised. So long míster paycheck. Let see what happens

November 21, 2022 at 3:32 PM

Hi, TwoBits. My post was 100% in jest. I don't expect any of the things I listed to actually happen.

November 21, 2022 at 4:12 PM

I don't love Iger, but I do think he is a step up from Chapek. If nothing else, Iger at least has the respect of those within the company. However, I don't see this as something that is going to come with major changes, particularly in the near term. Abolishment of reservations and virtual queues I do think is likely after the holiday period, but anything generating revenue isn't going anywhere and prices certainly aren't coming down.

November 22, 2022 at 6:02 PM

Dear Mr. Iger

Just some suggestions from some Disney-Entertainment-Consuming nobody:

1. Streamline the park going experience, immediately. WAY too convoluted now; Lightning lanes, and standby lanes, and virtual queues, and early entry lanes, and additional pay lightning lanes, and for the love of gawd please simplify this. I just had a very successful Disney Vacation with my family, at the cost of myself working the My Disney Experience AP much harder than I do any of my computer programs at work. It was a full time job, for my family to have an enjoyable time. Way too expensive to have me work that hard on vacation.

2. Exclusive Theatrical Releases; Black Widow, Turning Red, Encanto, Raya, Hellraiser 2022, Luca and Prey (Predator 5) were all underserved or ignored in the Theatrical Release department, despite being very high quality movies, in the interests of promoting online streaming. I understand that Covid-19 had a lot to do with some of those decisions, and some were experiments. However, let good movies have a 60 day big-screen release window to breath.

3. Let your Imagineers play. Give them the budgets they need, and let them create. Stop cutting back on everything they do. The difference between Harry Potter Lands and Star Wars Land, is that you don't keep thinking "This would be perfect if they just had..." in Harry Potter Land. The reason you don't think that, is because all the quality is already there. In Star Wars (as an example) you can almost see the signs that say "Good Idea Here Cut for Budgetary Reasons". This exists across the parks.

4. Stop nickel-and-diming me for your VERY expensive vacations. Let me park at my hotel, for free. Give me a ride from the airport, if I'm staying with you for a week. You can't keep charging more for less perks.

Just four ideas, to win back some good faith that the company has lost, since you left.


Long time Disney consumer.

November 22, 2022 at 6:13 AM

Dear Bob - please increase prices until you thin the crowds - only the entitled rich deserve truly magical experiences such as small world, Snow White and dumbo. After that, please add more reservation requirements so that every minute can be marveled and maximized in this unearthly realistic environment. Next I’d really appreciate making ESPN more confrontational and sensationalized, the chatter and confrontation is all I want to watch on those channels. Finally, I implore you to seriously consider moving Disney to Missouri where Walt wanted it. With global weather changing it undoubtedly will be pleasant in the winter, fewer storms and more corn and soybeans for those delicious treats! And if you can’t do that then at least make more more Disney features there and cruise the Disney Wonder on the Mississippi river ! I know you can do all that and more !

November 22, 2022 at 8:14 AM

This new season of Succession is wild!

November 22, 2022 at 8:50 AM

@TipTop - As noted in a TPI article from last week, people are willing to go into debt to visit WDW, so simply raising prices will not have the corresponding impact to attendance that many would expect. Treating the parks more like other entertainment venues (like sporting events, concerts, and movies) where parks can be "sold out" in advance needs to occur more often, as well as Disney being more transparent with how close each park is to true capacity when guests are purchasing tickets so expectations can be better calibrated.

November 27, 2022 at 10:58 AM

@Sarah Warner - Was it just me, or did Bob2 remind anyone of Curly from the Three Stooges? I kept waiting for him to say “Soitenly”…

Alas, I don’t see much changing at the Company with Bob’s return. His biggest job at first is to smooth over the ruffled feathers of creatives (and fans if he’s so inclined), and to find a successor or successors. Little’s gonna change at the parks with this move - Bob will probably kill off the much despised reservation system but that’s about it, since the parks are the revenue generator. The financial community may not love all the money Disney’s losing on streaming, but the beast needs to be fed to keep or increase subscribers (BTW, Bob2 missed an opportunity to offer an incentive for the three-year deal subscribers whose deals were expiring). As far as consumer products, if the focus is going to be almost exclusively online sales, how about offering everything on sale at the parks at the site, or stuff fans other than young kids and young women would want to buy? As for theaters… if you’ve got an idea on how to fix that issue long term, pass it along.

Lotsa luck, Bob. You’ve got your work cut out for you..

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