The news for Disney just keeps getting worse. The Marvels bombed badly and Wish is performing poorly. This comes on the heels of a long series of disasters like Strange World and the Little Mermaid live action remake. Not to mention the Indy movie.
Recently Disney disclosed that wokeness was a business risk.
“Generally, our revenues and profitability are adversely impacted when our entertainment offerings and products, as well as our methods to make our offerings and products available to consumers, do not achieve sufficient consumer acceptance. Further, consumers’ perceptions of our position on matters of public interest, including our efforts to achieve certain of our environmental and social goals, often differ widely and present risks to our reputation and brands.”
That is an admission that Disney’s efforts to “achieve certain of our environmental and social goals” are harming its profitability.
Now CEO Bob Iger is admitting that wokeness has been a financial disaster.
Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said Wednesday he will no longer tolerate his company’s partners and creative team prioritizing messaging over storytelling.
“Creators lost sight of what their No. 1 objective needed to be,” Iger said at the DealBook Summit in New York on Wednesday. “We have to entertain first. It’s not about messages.”
To respond with a movie quote…
“I’m shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here.”
Iger oversaw the ‘wokening’ of Disney. He had the vision to take Disney from a struggling company and turn it into a massively profitable giant. But he was also a leftist and he took a company that had generally been apolitical and made it woke. He was far from alone in the industry, but the shift was controversial since Disney controlled so much culture aimed at kids and managed to take over beloved franchises. It wasn’t all that long ago that he was flirting with a presidential run, but then things changed.
Now Iger wants to blame things on Bob Chapek: the guy he ousted.
Iger said Disney’s prioritization of messaging over storytelling peaked “while [he] was gone” in 2022, alluding to the 11 months he left his job as Disney’s executive chairman. Iger had been in charge of “creative endeavors” in 2020 and 2021, even while Bob Chapek ran the company as CEO.
“We have entertained with values and with having a positive impact on the world in many different ways. ‘Black Panther’ is a great example of that,” Iger said. “I like being able to entertain if you can infuse it with positive messages and have a good impact on the world. Fantastic. But that should not be the objective. When I came back, what I have really tried to do is to return to our roots.”
This is historical revisionism and the idea that anyone believes it shows that lying works. Let’s flash back to the Iger-Chapek transition.
Disney’s CEO transition from Bob Iger to Bob Chapek marked a shift from an outspoken, famous CEO with political ambitions, to a largely unfamiliar name whose politics remain a mystery. This week, we got a glimpse at how Chapek’s Disney might respond to the world’s tumultuous political climate.
On Monday, Chapek spoke about, but did not condemn, Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, saying that corporate statements are counterproductive and undermine “more effective ways” to implement change.
That’s a very different response from Iger’s, who was vocal about his opposition to the bill, and who tweeted in February that it would “put vulnerable, young LGBTQ people in jeopardy.”
Chapek’s problem was that he was weak. It’s why Iger was able to oust him and why leftists at the company were able to bully him into a fight with Gov. DeSantis.
Now Iger wants to blame the company’s wokeness on 11 months of Chapek being on the job. The question is will Disney change?
Entertainment ahead of messaging is a good strategy. Mostly though Iger is trying to reassure investors that he can turn Disney around. And it may not work.
Activist investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management said in a statement Thursday it will move forward with an effort to nominate new directors to the Disney board, concluding that “investor confidence is low, key strategic questions loom, and even Disney’s CEO is acknowledging that the Company’s challenges are greater than previously believed.”
Disney bet everything on becoming the king of streaming with its massive amount of precious IP. But woke productions thinned out the fanbases for many of them and parents have been dumping Disney over its inappropriate content for kids. And trying to become Netflix was a dead end anyway.
Iger helped make Disney a monster, but the car has been driven into the ditch. Wokeness is not the only problem, but it did burn down Disney’s brand. And if Iger can’t convince Apple, a company nearly as directionless and overvalued as it, to do some sort of deal, the axe may be waiting.
And then maybe Disney can entertain instead of indoctrinate.