It seems former Disney CEO Bob Chapek is no longer in “the room where it happens.”
In what some have called the most shocking Disney news to date, Bob Chapek was quickly fired last week as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and his predecessor, Bob Iger, has taken over as CEO for two years.
According to sources, the sudden exit was also a shock for Chapek, who now finds himself being removed from Disney history, including on Disney’s private island for its Cruise Line, Castaway Cay,
And in the recent Cast Member town hall, returning Disney CEO Iger revealed a Hamilton comparison that excited and surprised Disney fans.
With his abrupt ousting as Disney CEO, Mr Chapek is now at the forefront of online satire, Cast Member celebrations, and huge industry shock. And now, Iger is seemingly getting in on the humorous comparisons with a musical reference sure to get Disney fans and theme park Guests singing “there’s a million things [Iger hasn’t] done. Just you wait, just you wait.”
In the Cast Member town hall held on November 28, 2022, Iger called himself the “Boomerang CEO”, explaining that he was “happy to return [to the role of Disney CEO], but sorry [he] had to be asked.”
Bob Chapek’s time as CEO of The Walt Disney Company divided Disney fans, with several Disney PR backlashes, a political battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the new Disney Genie+ and Park Reservation systems, and a recent focus on budget cuts and layoffs after a poor quarterly earnings report.
Disney’s streaming services lost $1.47 billion last quarter, more than double the unit’s loss from a year prior, while shares of Disney fell roughly 8% in after-hours trading on Wall Street. It seems that Disney falling short of expectations for profit and key revenue segments led to Chapek’s demise.
Iger went on to say that there is a “sense of urgency” in The Walt Disney Company right now, revealing that “there is a lot that we have to do, and quickly.”
Bob Iger was a beloved CEO in his 15-year tenure, steering Disney through acquisitions of Lucasfilm, Pixar, Marvel Studios, and 21st Century Fox to become the giant entertainment company it is today. He retired from the role back in February 2020, just before Chapek took the reins and the pandemic shut down Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and other theme park resorts across the globe.
Iger continued by comparing his sudden return to that of Thomas Jefferson in Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Broadway sensation Hamilton:
“I was listening to Hamilton – particularly the song “What’d I Miss?”, sung by Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom, Jr. and it reminded me of where we are now. The status quo has gone, but as the song says, the sun still shines and Disney World still spins.”
“What’d I Miss?”, as Hamilton fans will know, is the first song of Act Two of the historical musical. Thomas Jefferson returns from his lengthy France trip to James Madison, who rants to him about Hamilton’s financial plan, which he claims is “nothing less than government control.” The men plot – and then succeed – to trash Hamilton’s reputation, along with Aaron Burr.
Is Iger comparing himself to Jefferson, returning from time away to ruin Chapek’s (as Hamilton’s) reputation? Iger is, of course, referring to the lyrics sung by Diggs’ Jefferson:
There is no more status quo
But the sun comes up
And the world still spins
Disney fans know Bob Iger to be an optimist, so it seems only fitting that Iger sees the sun shining in the future of Disney.
Hamilton opened on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City back in 2015 after a sold-out run off-Broadway at The Public Theater earlier that year. Written by and starring Lin Manuel-Miranda, songwriter for Disney’s popular animated Bruno movie Encanto (2021), the musical brings hip-hop, jazz, and R&B to the story of America’s founding fathers in an innovative way.
In 2020, Hamilton was introduced to a new audience when Disney+ released a cinematic recording of a performance by the original Broadway cast. The film was originally scheduled for an October 2021 theatrical wide release by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures but was later moved up to July 2020, on Disney+, in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down the Broadway, West End, and touring productions.
Hamilton received a record-breaking 16 Tony Award nominations and won 11, while the recorded special gained 2 Emmy Awards wins and 10 other nominations.
Here’s Disney’s description of the incredibly popular Lin-Manuel Miranda show:
“Hamilton” is the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, “Hamilton” has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre—a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education. Filmed at The Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in June of 2016, the film transports its audience into the world of the Broadway show in a uniquely intimate way.
It is unknown at this point how Iger’s reinstatement as Disney CEO will impact the company going forward, but he has already sent a heartfelt message to Cast Members expressing his “gratitude” for being back as Disney CEO.
Let’s hope Iger doesn’t throw away his shot.