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Bob Iger to Return as Disney CEO In Surprising Shake-Up, Bob Chapek Departing

The Walt Disney Co. is experiencing a major and very unexpected corporate shake-up, as current CEO Bob Chapek is stepping down from his position and being replaced by his predecessor, Bob Iger.

The news was revealed by Disney’s board of directors on Sunday. This change takes effect immediately, as Iger returns to a role he only vacated in 2020. Iger’s new contract will see him serve as CEO for the next two years.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Chairman of the Board Susan Arnold in a statement. “The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.”

LEFT: BOB CHAPEK, RIGHT: BOB IGER (IMAGE CREDITS: DAVID LIVINGSTON/GETTY IMAGES & SAMIR HUSSEIN/WIREIMAGE/GETTY)

This news comes just days after Chapek notified company executives of a new series of cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, targeted hiring freezes and travel limits. Disney’s recent quarterly earnings report showed troubling signs for the company, including a loss of nearly $1.5 billion in the streaming division, causing the company’s stock price to drop to a two-year low.

“I am fully aware this will be a difficult process for many of you and your teams,” Chapek said. “We are going to have to make tough and uncomfortable decisions. But that is just what leadership requires, and I thank you in advance for stepping up during this important time. Our company has weathered many challenges during our 100-year history, and I have no doubt we will achieve our goals and create a more nimble company better suited to the environment of tomorrow.”

Iger previously served as CEO of The Walt Disney Co. from 2005 to 2020. During his tenure, Iger oversaw a period of huge expansion for the company, including the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox, as well as the launch of the Disney+ streaming service. Chapek previously served as head of Parks, Experiences, and Products and as Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts before being promoted to CEO in February 2020.

Chapek’s brief time on the job has been marked by various pandemic-related challenges and a fair degree of turmoil, beginning with a major falling-out between Iger and Chapek. Chapek also drew criticism for his handling of the pay dispute between the studio and Black Widow Scarlett Johansson, as well as his initial response to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

“I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO,” Iger said in a statement. “Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe—most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration. I am deeply honored to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling.”

It’s clear the Disney board hopes to return to the stability and growth marked by Iger’s previous tenure as CEO. However, the company continues to face major economic headwinds and cutthroat competition in the streaming marketplace, so it remains to be seen if Chapek’s second stint will prove as successful.

Do you think Disney’s board made the right call? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.

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