Disney: Where Bob Chapek’s Dream turned into a Nightmare

Shefali Murti
Animal Spirits
Published in
3 min readDec 4, 2022
Image from Disney Plus

Now former Disney CEO Bob Chapek is not having the most magical time at Disney. Just this past Sunday, he was fired and replaced by former CEO Bob Iger, who came in full force coup style. Chapek was certainly not the most well-liked CEO around–both Disney fan’s and other employees often criticized his decisions throughout his two years their.

Chapek’s reign at Disney

Chapek replaced Iger in 2020, where he was hit with his first major issue: the pandemic. His announcement to close all Disney parks early on was necessary, but had a predictable hit on the company’s stock–Disney’s stock dropped historically low following this announcement.

Another decision Chapek made early on to complement the shut down of park’s was to reorganize the company’s structure to focus on streaming. Chapek gave more power to the distribution branch, but content executives grew upset over their suddenly decreased share in profit and loss responsibility (overseeing and allocating net income).

There were a few public relation nightmares Chapek also caused. When Scarlet Johansson filed a lawsuit against Disney in July 2021 for breaching her contract by releasing Black Widow in theater’s and streaming at the same time. Chapek defended the company and completely shut down Johansson, saying “there is no merit” to the lawsuit and then publicly revealed the amount of money she made from the movie. Chapek was criticized for his bitter and exposing response to Johansson, who is a long-standing star of Disney. Shortly after this, Chapek found himself in troubled waters again when he first chose to stay silent on the Parental Rights bill (otherwise known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill) in Florida–a well-known hot spot for the company, as it houses Walt Disney World. He eventually agreed to speak out against the bill, but employees–especially those apart of the LGBTQIA+ community — still didn’t think Chapek was doing enough to support their community.

Iger returns

Between criticized business decisions, public relations disasters, and continuously dropping earnings for Disney, not many people were pleased with Chapek. The decision to replace him happened quicker than Cinderella’s carriage turned into a pumpkin. With concerns all across the company about Chapek’s management, the board asked Iger to return as CEO on Friday and the announcement went out on Sunday, coming as a complete shock to Chapek. Iger’s contract lasts until December 2024, with hopes of returning Disney to its former glory. The agreement grants Iger a $1 million base salary with eligibility for bonuses of up to $25 depending on the company’s performance during this period. Disney’s stock rose almost 10% the day after the announcement of Chapek’s replacement, showing high hopes for the future of Disney with Iger’s return.