OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The Disney company has made a major change in leadership. On Sunday, the entertainment giant announced it was letting CEO Bob Chapek go and would replace him with former CEO Bob Iger. Chapek’s tenure has been marked with complaints of overtly “woke” content that has failed to resonate with audiences, falling stock prices, and bleeding profits.
Iger, 71, retired as the company’s CEO a year ago. Chapek’s tenure, however, “saw the entertainment giant become a value-hemorrhaging caricature of wokeness,” The Daily Wire reported. Iger had groomed Chapek to replace him, remaining with Disney for an additional two years to try and smooth the transition.
“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 in a statement.
The Daily Wire adds:
Disney stock has fallen over 40% over the last year amid an ailing economy. It’s woes have been blamed on a series of decisions that have alienated its family-minded and in many cases, conservative, customer base. The company clashed bitterly with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over a law that prohibits public schools from teaching kids below the fourth grade about sexual orientation and radical gender theory.
— Walt Disney Company (@WaltDisneyCo) November 21, 2022
The company was also criticized for featuring a lesbian kiss in kids’ movie “Lightyear,” showing a transgender man purchasing tampons in a TV series, and emphatically embracing the trend of Environmental, Social, and Governance, a strategy that courts investors by promoting a host of woke values within the corporate structure.
Chapek earned a salary of around $26 million. He did not immediately release a statement following his ouster.
Disney’s board of directors noted that Iger “is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period,” adding that he has a “deep respect of Disney’s senior leadership team, most of whom he worked closely with until his departure as executive chairman 11 months ago.”
After his reappointment, Iger emailed all Disney employees, informing them he was returning from retirement.
“Dear Fellow Employees and Cast Members,” he wrote, according to an email obtained by The Ankler.
“It is with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility-and, I must admit, a bit of amazement-that I write to you this evening with the news that I am returning to The Walt Disney Company as Chief Executive Officer.
Email from Bob Iger to Disney staff, 7:19 p.m. pic.twitter.com/IiTQvBYYZp
— The Ankler (@TheAnkler) November 21, 2022
“When I look at the creative success of our teams across our Studios, Disney General Entertainment, ESPN and International, the rapid growth of our streaming services, the phenomenal reimagining and rebound of our Parks, the continued great work of ABC News, and so many other achievements across our businesses, I am in awe of your accomplishments and I am excited to embark with you on many new endeavors.
“I know this company has asked so much of you during the past three years, and these times certainly remain quite challenging, but as you have heard me say before, I am an optimist.”
The company lost billions during the COVID-19 pandemic, including having its parks closed for much of the time. Chapek was charged with bringing Disney back to profitability, but instead, he caved to a small number of employees who opposed a piece of legislation in Florida barring trans and LGBTQ curriculum being taught to children between kindergarten and third grade.
Florida’s GOP legislative majority responded by revoking Disney’s special tax status in the state, a bill that was readily signed by Republican Gov. DeSantis, costing the company even more money.
In June, a high-ranking official at Walt Disney Co. who spoke out against the same law was ousted from the company amid a major personnel shakeup, ironically by Chapek.
General Entertainment Content chairman Peter Rice, who claimed publicly that he saw “this law as a violation of fundamental human rights,” was dismissed and replaced Rice with one of Chapek’s top lieutenants, Dana Walden. The firing reportedly came as a shock to many in the entertainment world, though reports indicated that Chapek may have believed that Rice was angling for his job.