Disney CEO Bob Iger sat down on Thursday, July 13, for an interview on CNBC with David Faber on Squawk Box. During the conversation, Disney’s chief executive officer addressed many issues (and elephants in the room). But he also provided a few strange lines that may make one paying attention to the ongoings of the Walt Disney Company say, “huh?”
Perhaps it’s too much to call them outright lies. But they should raise some eyebrows, such as him saying Disney doesn’t want to be in a culture war, their problems are all because of COVID, and stories about low crowds are fake news. So let’s examine some of them…
“…the timetable that we initially established, which was two years, seemed like it was putting undue pressure on us…”
When asked about extending his contract to 2026, Bob Iger acted as though it had to be done because once he returned, he realized there was just so much work to do. This may be true. However, it leaves out some very important details – mainly that Bob Iger never left the Walt Disney Company. He remained on the Board, even after he retired as CEO, and some have even claimed that his heavy influence over Disney’s board was part of what pushed out CEO Bob Chapek. Some have also reported that despite retiring for 11 months, Bob Iger stayed in his corporate office. So the idea that he was laying back and relaxing while Bob Chapek ran the company into the ground isn’t entirely honest. Bob Iger knew what was happening at the company, and there shouldn’t have been any great shock once he returned.
“…some of these businesses are still recovering from Covid…”
COVID remains a convenient excuse for many things today, and this line from Bob Iger suggests Disney will use it as well. Disney Plus was the massive success that it was BECAUSE of Covid. People stayed home, worked from home, didn’t go out to the movies, etc., for years. Many turned to the new streaming app to watch their favorite shows and movies.
In addition, many movies have made a profit in the past couple of years – just not Disney productions. Covid is an easy way to explain a low box office, but when the The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) movie is making over $1 billion in the theater, and Lightyear (2022), Strange World (2022), and Elemental (2023) are flops – something else going on.
The theme parks have also seen a return in some cases to pre-covid numbers. Although Walt Disney World attendance did see a drop in their average wait times between 2022 and 2023, other theme parks in the country have seen their numbers return with a bang.
“…it’s not our goal to be involved in a culture war.”
Many people have their own opinion on various ‘culture war’ topics. And whether you agree or disagree with Disney’s position or Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, there’s no question that the Walt Disney Company injected itself in the middle of a culture war.
The Walt Disney Company has seldom, if ever, opined on hot-button issues or politics. For decades they never talked about topics like abortion, human rights, presidential races, and political controversies (including Bill Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s impeachments). But they decided to weigh in on a Florida bill and still stand firm on their opposition to it. Again, one can agree or disagree with the bill or Disney’s position, but to pretend that Disney didn’t insert itself into the conversation is to deny history.
“…we see no sign of that at all…” (referring to a decrease in park attendance)
This is an outright denial of reality. In the interview, Bob Iger claims that the story about the drop in attendance “was measuring attendance at Disney World on July 4, which didn’t really factor in temperature.” So he denies the attendance is down…but then explains the attendance is lower because of the weather? In Disney’s defense, the weather on the Fourth of July was hot and humid and could very well have been the reason for the decrease in attendance compared to past years. But you can’t deny a claim, dismiss it as fake news, and then one second later explain why the fake news was real.
“…pricing is not an issue.”
This statement was another particularly odd one. In the past, Bob Iger had commented that Walt Disney World tickets were too high. This was reported in Deadline in March. Back then, Bob Iger said, “I think that in our zeal to grow profits, we may have been a little bit too aggressive about some of our pricing.” Now he is saying pricing is not an issue at the parks. Could so much have changed in just a few months?
RELATED: Genie+ Prices Drop Again
Disney CEO Bob Iger also addressed other topics, such as ESPN, the future of streaming, and whether or not AI will be used to write the next Disney movie. For the full interview, you can watch it online, or you can read the full transcript here.