A day after the shock announcement of Bob Iger’s return to Disney, and the resulting ousting of his successor-turned-predecessor Bob Chapek, a puzzled Hollywood is grappling with exactly what 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 that he rules the Magic Kingdom once again. Shares of Disney ended more than 6% higher on Monday on a day when the Dow Jones fell slightly. Second, Iger is moving quickly — not even waiting 24 hours to announce sweeping changes — to dismantle Chapek’s reorganization of the company.
The speed at which Iger is hurtling is especially remarkable given that the Disney board only made overtures to Iger on Friday to return to the embattled company. “It literally started on Friday and ended on Sunday,” a person with expertise told CNN, adding that Iger “felt a sense of obligation to go back because he really cares about the company.”
Now he’s already calling big plays.
A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. Sign up here for the daily summary of the evolving media landscape.
In a Monday night memo to employees of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, a key organ of the Chapek-founded company that has frustrated some creatives, Iger announced that Kareem Daniel, the division’s chief and an ally of Chapek’s, “would leave. ”
Iger also announced that the entertainment giant will undergo a wider transformation with him back at the helm. “In the coming weeks, we will begin implementing organizational and operational changes within the company,” Iger wrote to employees. “My intention is 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 puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.” Iger said the goal is “to have the new structure in place in the coming months.”
Outside of Iger’s reorganization of Chapek’s reorganization, the Disney chief could also reverse another major Chapek decision made just weeks after going into effect: Disney+’s 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.” However, Chapek dropped that modus operandi earlier this year when he bumped the price up to a whopping $10.99 a month.
Looking further into the future, there are bigger questions: What will Disney look like once Iger’s two-year deal expires? How will Iger position and reshape the company for the digital age? Could he take a step to shake off ABC and the broadcast division? Or maybe make a mega deal to eat up a company like Netflix? Or will Disney itself be eaten by a Big Tech giant like Apple?
A source at a top talent agency pointed out that the biggest question Iger will have to answer is how he “tops his last run as CEO.”
“The world is much more complicated than it was a few years ago and it will be difficult to live up to the reputation he has built as the most formidable media CEO ever,” said the source. “And he will have a short runway to please Wall Street, its staff, creative partners and the public.”
“So much for getting on top of it.”