A day after the shock announcement of Bob Iger’s return to Disney, and the resulting ouster of his successor-turned-predecessor Bob Chapek, a stunned Hollywood is grappling with exactly what the move will mean for the entertainment giant̵[ads1]7;s short- and long-term future.
But even if there is no shortage of questions being asked, two things are certain. First, investors are thrilled that he’s once again reigning over the Magic Kingdom. Disney shares ended Monday up more than 6% on a day when the Dow Jones was slightly down. Second, Iger is moving quickly—not even waiting a full 24 hours to announce sweeping changes—to dismantle Chapek’s reorganization of the company.
The speed with which Iger is raging is especially remarkable given that Disney’s board only made the overture for Iger’s return to the troubled company on Friday. “It literally started on Friday and ended on Sunday,” a person with knowledge of the matter 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 for the daily summary of the evolving media landscape here.
In a memo Monday night sent to employees of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, a key body of the company created by Chapek that frustrated some creatives, Iger announced that Kareem Daniel, the division’s chief and a Chapek ally, would “leave the company.”
Iger also announced that the entertainment giant will undergo a broader transformation with him back at the helm. “Over the coming weeks, we will begin implementing organizational and operational changes across the company,” Iger wrote to employees. “It is my intention 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 on the design of a new structure that puts more decision-making back into 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 reorganizing of Chapek’s reorg, the Disney boss could also relax another key decision made by Chapek that’s just weeks away from taking effect: Disney+’s price increase. Iger launched Disney+ for just $6.99 a month, and as CNBC’s Alex Sherman reported, his strategy was to “slowly raise prices over time.” Chapek, however, ditched that modus operandi earlier this year when he raised the price to a whopping $10.99 a month.
Looking further into the future, bigger questions abound: What will Disney look like when Iger’s two-year deal is up? How will Iger position and reshape the company for the digital age? Could he make a move to dump ABC and the broadcasting division? Or maybe execute a mega deal to eat 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 has to answer is how he “tops his last pitch as CEO.”
“The world is a much more complicated place than it was a few years ago and it’s going to be difficult to live up to the reputation he built as the most formidable media boss ever,” the source said. “And he’s going to have a short runway to please Wall Street, his staff, creative partners and audiences.”
“So much for going out on top.”