Given the incredible news that Bob Iger has returned as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, replacing outgoing boss bob Chapek, we decided to put together a timeline of Chapek’s rocky time in charge, highlighting some of the circumstances that led to his exit from the company.
Some Notes on the Timeline
- It’s not easy to pinpoint any one thing that went wrong for Chapek. The deck was stacked against him as Covid hit, but things seemed to go downhill more quickly after the company was accused of censoring “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection” in Pixar’s Turning Red and its disastrous response to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill (critically known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill). Chapek found critics on both sides of the issue, with some saying his lack of response and subsequent apology were insufficient, while others criticized Disney for being too “woke.”
- Since then, politicians have targeted Disney with unfriendly legislation (including removing the company’s longstanding self-governing status in Florida), Lightyear bombed, and the company’s Q4 earnings call was so bad it had analysts calling for Chapek to be fired.
- It’s far too early to say what Iger’s return might mean for Disney, but initial market reactions proved strong, with Disney shares up over 6% on the Monday after his return was announced. Many in the animation community were enthused when Iger dismissed Chapek’s chairman of the controversial Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution unit, Kareem Daniel, saying that the company is going to put “decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams.”
February 2020: In a shock move, Bob Iger steps down as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and is replaced by the relatively unknown Bob Chapek, stunning analysts and industry insiders.
March 2020: Only weeks after Chapek takes charge, Disney is forced to close its theme parks and pull films from theaters due to the Covid-19 outbreak.