Disney Headlines for November 23rd, 2022
What should we talk about in this week’s Disney Headlines?
Oh, who am I kidding? One Disney story absolutely obliterated everything else.
Let’s examine some of the wildest and most interesting takes on what MickeyBlog’s Kristi DeRubertis has fittingly called Disney’s Red Wedding.
The Once and Future CEO
MickeyBlog’s past five pages are covered with stories about this week’s massive Headline.
Late on Sunday evening, Disney’s Board of Directors toppled the Bob Chapek regime.
The move was as savage as it was efficient. According to The Hollywood Report, this was how Disney’s actions unfolded:
“They called [Chapek] and said, ‘You’re out. Our lawyers will call your lawyers.’ No statement from him, no comment from him, no grace. It’s (expletive deleted) insane.”
What was the expletive? Well, the insider didn’t say fudge. Instead, they went with the F-dash-dash-dash word, which speaks volumes about the situation.
On a random Sunday night, Chapek lost the Disney CEO gig in a similar fashion to how he got it: randomly and at a time when few were paying attention.
Still, since Disney fans have spent the last 33 months burning Chapek dolls in effigy, the story quickly went viral in a way I’ve legitimately never seen before with the company.
When Iger announced his retirement, nobody was absolutely stunned about any aspect of it other than the timing…okay, and maybe the choice for replacement.
GET OUT AND STAY OUT!!!
All business analysts KNEW Iger was ready to leave soon, though. He was eyeballing a presidential run and had deduced COVID-19 was going to make him seem like less of a genius.
Chapek hadn’t expected to win this bakeoff, as many insiders, myself included, had pegged Kevin Mayer as moving ahead in that secretive race.
COVID-19 changed the calculus and put Chapek in front of Disney. It quickly became clear that his natural skills as a money-maker could help the company.
Conversely, all the reasons Disney had decided NOT to pick him as Iger’s successor also came to light. And they seemed to keep a permanent spotlight on Chapek.
When the time came for Disney’s Board to view Chapek as having outlived his usefulness, they just threw him out of a moving vehicle.
In the immortal words of a 1990s one-hit wonder, you only get what you give. In Chapek’s case, he gave former Disney executive Peter Rice a humiliating sendoff.
When the time came, Disney’s Board treated Chapek the same. I’ve seen Saw movies that were more respectful to the victims of betrayal.
That aspect is what has captivated the media. Disney is rarely scandalous behind the scenes. But, this time, there’s genuine animosity involved.
Meanwhile, Bob Iger comes out of this smelling like a rose. I joked several times during the pandemic that I wondered whether he was framing Chapek.
If Iger did that, it was a masterful performance. Iger announced his retirement in February 2020. The parks closed due to the pandemic three weeks later.
Chapek’s tenure became a series of terrible luck and dramatic miscalculations.
People have grown angry with the Disney brand, something the company hadn’t experienced on this scale since 2005.
Now, Iger gets to be the hero that Bonnie Tyler always wanted.
The Wild Speculation
Hollywood and Wall Street analysts are especially curious about what comes next.
Those entities know Iger possesses two unique skills: he’s a creative who speaks Hollywood’s language. However, he’s also someone who gets Wall Street.
Iger has demonstrated an uncanny ability to target undervalued assets and then develop them into massive revenue generators.
So, people are speculating about acquisition and merger targets. One I discussed earlier this year is back in play. Some analysts think Disney and Netflix could join forces.
Others believe that Iger may do the inverse of his first significant achievement. The CEO famously demonstrated his skill by persuading Steve Jobs to sell Pixar to Disney.
A writer at The Wrap, among others, believes Iger may speak with Apple about buying Disney.
I don’t think that’s the legacy Iger would want for the year Disney begins its centennial celebration.
Still, these are the sorts of hot takes we’re getting right now, and I can’t cast stones here. I’ve already written about Iger’s most pressing problems.
Right now, we’re at a slow time on the annual calendar for Disney news. Disney just did something earth-shattering during the corporate dead season.
With nothing else to talk about, we’ll follow Headlines like these for the foreseeable future.
What Is Iger’s Plan?
Notably, the opposite strategy could apply as well. For example, Chapek famously dismissed the possibility of Disney selling ESPN.
Since Iger views ESPN as his baby, I suspect he’ll feel the same. However, at least one CNBC interviewee suggested that Disney should sell, not buy.
This analyst believes that Iger should list all the core Disney assets that he feels are future-proof, the ones that will hold their value over the next five years.
Then, Disney should clear its balance sheet by selling the assets Iger suspects may decline in future years.
At this point, we wouldn’t be talking about selling high per se, as the ship has sailed on various linear television opportunities.
Still, if they still hold value for someone, Disney should accept a check now.
This philosophy brings us to a New York Times Headline. What should Disney do with ESPN and Hulu?
I just stated my opinion on one, but Hulu comes with decidedly more nuance.
Disney currently lists debts of $48 billion, which isn’t bad at all for a company earning $83 billion.
However, the company must pay Comcast at least $10 billion in 2024 for the remaining one-third of Hulu Disney doesn’t own.
Conversely, Disney could sell Hulu to Comcast, who would presumably turn around and try to acquire Warner Bros. Discovery to create a single mega-service.
In that scenario, Comcast spends like $100 billion to bring Peacock and Warner Bros. Discovery together on Hulu, presuming any of that passes regulatory approval.
Meanwhile, Disney wipes out more than half its debt in one fell swoop. These are the sorts of permutations that are garnering Headlines and will for some time to come.
We’re all waiting for Bob Iger to show his hand. When he does, it’s gonna be really good!
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Feature Photo: LA Times