One day after the shock announcement of Bob Iger’s return to Disney, and the resulting firing of his successor-turned-predecessor Bob Chapek, a stunned Hollywood is grappling with exactly what the move will mean for the entertainment giant’s short and long term. future.
But while there is no shortage of questions being asked, two things are certain. First of all, investors are delighted that he is reigning supreme in the Magic Kingdom again. Disney shares ended Monday up more than 6% on a day when the Dow fell slightly. Second, Iger is moving fast, not even waiting a full 24 hours to announce sweeping changes, to dismantle Chapek’s company shakeup.
The speed at which Iger is rushing in is especially remarkable given that Disney’s board of directors only made its offer for Iger to return to the embattled company on Friday. “It literally started on Friday and ended on Sunday,” a person with knowledge of the matter told CNN, adding that Iger “felt an obligation to come back because he really cares about the company.”
Now he’s calling big plays.
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In a Monday night memo sent to employees of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, a key body of the Chapek-created company that frustrated some creatives, Iger announced that Kareem Daniel, the division head and Chapek ally, “I would leave the company. ”
Iger also announced that the entertainment giant will undergo a broader transformation with him back at the helm. “In the coming weeks, we will begin to implement organizational and operational changes within the company,” Iger wrote to the 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 Pitaro and Christine McCarthy to “work together to design a new structure that would put more decisions back into our creative teams and streamline costs.” Iger said the goal “is to have the new structure ready in the next few months.”
Outside of Iger’s shakeup of Chapek’s shakeup, the Disney boss could also undo another key decision made by Chapek that is just weeks away from taking effect: the Disney+ price hike. Iger launched Disney+ for just $6.99 a month, and as CNBC’s Alex Sherman reported, his strategy was to “raise prices slowly over time.” Chapek, however, abandoned that modus operandi earlier this year when he raised the price to $10.99 per month.
Looking further into the future, bigger questions abound: What will Disney look like when Iger’s two-year deal is up? How will Iger position and reshape the company for the digital age? Could you make a move to get rid of ABC and the broadcast division? Or maybe execute a mega deal to eat up a company like Netflix? Or will Disney itself be gobbled up by a Big Tech giant like Apple?
A source from a major talent agency said the biggest question Iger will have to answer is how he “gets over his last run as CEO.”
“The world is a much more complicated place than it was a few years ago and it’s going to be hard to live up to the reputation he built as the most formidable media CEO ever,” the source said. “And he’s going to have a short way to please Wall Street, his staff, creative partners and the audience.”
“So much to come out on top.”