Disney has repeatedly hammered the point home that the Bob Chapek Era is over. But this begs the question, what does this mean for the current state of the Walt Disney Company?
As Disney Fanatics know, the February 8 earnings call brought a lot of news—some good, some grave—for Disney fans to process. Post the earnings call, the continued trickle of information has brought more clarity about the news that has undoubtedly taken the Disney community by storm: the Disney layoffs.
Read More: Disney Announces Major Layoffs
What has been abundantly clear with the news that Disney shared during the February 8 earnings call is that Disney is looking to go through a major transformation. The restructuring of the Walt Disney Company that started with the return of Disney CEO Bob Iger back in November of 2022 (and the ousting of former Disney CEO Bob Chapek) will only continue.
When Bob Iger came back in November, we found out his contract was only for two years, and many have speculated that the Disney CEO will stay on longer than that and that he had a hard time letting go of the reins. Per a recent interview with CNBC, Mr. Iger has put those comments to rest (even though some fans don’t quite buy it).
Iger on CNBC this morning says his plan is to stay at Disney for two years:
“Well, my plan is to stay here for two years, that’s what my contract says, that was my agreement with the board, and that is my preference." pic.twitter.com/FZrqRLE9dr
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) February 9, 2023
To have an older, more seasoned veteran back in the game brings a few questions to mind about how to begin thinking about the current state of Disney.
From the earnings report released prior to the February 8 earnings call, what became evident was that the revenue was broadly on the up and up, despite losses in the streaming sector. This was likely offset largely by the 21% increase in revenue from Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products sector, headed by Josh D’Amaro.
Interestingly, despite Iger’s buying spree back when he was CEO before Chapek came on board, it seems now Iger is much more willing to consider any and all options to put the company back on track.
Bob Iger making some news on @cnbc right now — saying he is open to selling to Hulu. “Everything is on the table.”
Under Bob Chapek, Comcast was under the impression Disney would consolidate Hulu. Now with Iger’s return, he is suggesting he’s open to selling Disney’s 66%.
— Alex Sherman (@sherman4949) February 9, 2023
Read More: Is Disney About to Give Up a Huge Part of Its Streaming Family?
But at the same time, Disney is also making decisions that don’t quite add up. The Disney Parks sector was one of the most profitable for the company, and any Disney fan will agree that the heart of the Disney Parks are Disney Cast Members. Yet, in an email from Josh D’Amaro this morning, we now know even Cast Members at both Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort will be subject to the layoffs.
Many Disney fans addressed the elephant in the room, asking whether the C-suite would also be taking pay cuts and foregoing their bonuses, but that doesn’t appear to be on the table right now.
At present, while the move away from Chapek’s decisions for the company includes returning more power to the creatives and a reorganization that aims to make Disney+ profitable by the end of 2024, and a focus on quality Disney content, Disney seems to be even more about the bottom line than it has ever been.
The Mouse House also stayed noticeably silent on the Reedy Creek Improvement District issue, a move that many might appreciate considering the tumultuous nature of the political battle with Gov Ron DeSantis. Perhaps fans can look forward to a time of creative focus at Pixar and Walt Disney Studios, and Disney’s other properties, and a more quiet “head-to-the-ground” approach.
What Disney has going for it at the moment is that it’s surrounded by people who want to see the company succeed and, arguably, by people who are looking to see their investment in Disney pay off. The next few months will certainly prove to be interesting as Disney and Bob Iger embark on the significant clean-up job necessary after their 2022 showing of a $120 billion loss.