Mr. Iger is returning to the company he ran for 15 years after being succeeded by Bob Chapek in 2020.
In a move that dropped jaws in Hollywood and prompted comparisons to an implausible screenplay, the board of the Walt Disney Company fired Bob Chapek as chief executive on Sunday and announced that Robert A. Iger would return to run the company, effective immediately.
In effect, Disney is replacing Mr. Iger’s handpicked successor as chief executive with Mr. Iger. In a Sunday night email to Disney employees, Mr. Iger said it was “with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility — and, I must admit, a bit of amazement — that I write to you this evening with the news that I am returning.”
Mr Iger agreement
Mr. Iger, 71, agreed to a two-year contract after the board determined that Mr. Chapek, 62, had done irreparable damage to his ability to lead, with a string of missteps resulting in the lost confidence of Wall Street and most senior Disney executives, as well as many rank-and-file employees. He previously served as Disney’s chief executive from 2005 to 2020, a run that was widely seen as one of the most successful in Hollywood history.
Mr. Iger left Disney entirely at the end of 2021, having served as executive chairman for two years to help Mr. Chapek gain his footing. Now, Mr. Iger has been given two years by the board to steer the company on to the right path and groom another successor.
We thank Bob Chapek for his service,” Susan Arnold, the board chair, said 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.”
Mr. Arnold called Mr. Iger
Ms. Arnold called Mr. Iger on Friday and asked him to consider returning to the company, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. In recent months, Mr. Iger has made no secret of his extreme disappointment with Mr. Chapek, telling people close to him that he was “devastated” by the downward direction that Disney had taken and that it felt that Disney was losing its soul.
Mr. Iger had delayed his retirement from Disney three times and, in some ways, seemed reluctant to leave the company when he did. At the same time, Mr. Iger was firm when people in the upper ranks of Hollywood asked him in recent months if he would ever return: No.
Since leaving Disney, Mr. Iger has joined Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital as a venture partner; joined the board of Genies Inc., a crypto start-up that allows people to create digital avatars; started to work on a second book; and spent time on his yacht in locales like the Ionian Sea. It was not immediately clear whether he will cut ties with Thrive Capital.
Mr. Iger said in a statement on Sunday night that he was “extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the board to return as CEO.”