Bob Iger Bob Iger

In a wide-ranging conversation with CNBC’s Squawk Box that aired Thursday morning, Disney CEO Bob Iger discussed various challenges faced by the company.

Notably, he spoke at length, for possibly the first time since returning to the CEO role last November, about the feature animation divisions at Disney and Pixar. Though measured and diplomatic in tone, Iger’s responses revealed his feeling that neither studio has been firing on all cylinders in recent years. This, despite the fact that Disney (on the strength of its live-action offerings) is currently the #1 studio at the global box office through the first half of the year.

Speaking about Pixar specifically, he acknowledged that the strategy of offloading the studio’s films direct to streaming may have not been the best idea, while adding that some of the recent struggles at the studio have been due to “creative misses.” Said Iger:

There were three Pixar releases in a row that went direct to streaming, mostly because of Covid, and I think that may have created an expectation in the audience that they’re going to eventually be on streaming and probably quickly, and there wasn’t an urgency. And then, I think you’d have to agree, that there were some creative misses as well.

Pressed by CNBC’s David Faber about whether the departure of chief creative officer John Lasseter has had an impact on the animation divisions, Iger admitted that it was a possibility:

There’s a lot of talent at Pixar. There has been turnover as well, not just John [Lasseter], but there’s been other turnover too. And that may have had some impact.

He also acknowledged that Disney’s animation division has historically had peaks and valleys, stretching back all the way to the time that Walt Disney ran the studio, and that they weren’t necessarily at a peak right now.

If you look at [Walt Disney’s] history, there were peaks and there were valleys. Every valley was followed by a peak. I studied it very carefully. It’s true in my predecessor Michael Eisner’s days too, great halcyon days of Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid and Lion King and just this tremendous success, and then there’s a dip. I’m not suggesting we’re necessarily in that, but I’m also not suggesting we’re at a peak either. We have some work to do there in terms of improving our creative output.

Filmed at the Sun Valley Conference in Idaho, the segment where Iger discussed the animation divisions can be viewed below: