Disney Headlines for December 22nd, 2022
Someone at CNBC just gazed into a crystal ball and predicted Disney’s future.
We’re gonna cover it as the only story in Disney Headlines this week for a single reason.
Last year, this same article correctly predicted that Bob Iger would return to Disney in 2022 and replace Bob Chapek as CEO.
So, we must take these predictions seriously.
What Happens with Bob Iger?
Here’s a link to the 2023 predictions. I must stress that one person isn’t making these.
Instead, the author has texted many of his brilliant friends within the industry and asked them to forecast the next year.
I’d prioritize the person who called the Iger comeback a year ago. But unfortunately, that individual didn’t add their name, which was a massive mistake in hindsight.
The person who predicted that would be the toast of Wall Street today.
Anyway, many of these predictions either directly involve The Walt Disney Company or could impact it in some way.
Let’s skip to number three since that one will affect everything else. Specifically, someone suggests that Bob Iger will extend his contract.
Yes, I know that’s the Christmas miracle we’re all wishing to happen in 2023.
As things stand, Disney’s Board of Directors brought back Iger for two years and gave him the primary assignment of finding a successor…and a good one this time.
Here’s the prediction:
“This executive said Iger, 71, will extend his contract beyond Dec. 31, 2024, his current end date, and stay as Disney CEO for years to come.”
If that sounds familiar, it should. When I listed potential replacements for Iger, I said something similar.
The man didn’t enjoy retirement, and his wife is under contract for her dream job for another four years.
So, the math checks out that he stays for at least that long.
What Happens with Christine McCarthy?
Some people are more polished at treachery than others. Like everything else in life, it’s a skill.
A few people possess the natural ability, while others master the craft of betrayal over time. Then, you’ll find some who are sloppy but effective.
In my estimation, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy falls into that final category.
Several media reports have painted her as the hero who overthrew the tyrant, Bob Chapek, and saved Disney for generations to come.
As far as Disney storytelling goes, I’ve heard better.
What has obviously happened is that McCarthy and her friends have surfed the wave of positive PR that comes from Chapek’s toppling.
A recent Deadline article with a clickbait title went so far as to suggest she’s the most likely person to succeed Iger as CEO. I didn’t buy what that story was selling.
Neither does a savvy prognosticator at CNBC. Instead, this unnamed individual – who isn’t me, I swear – sees McCarthy for what she is.
The person correctly notes that McCarthy was part of Chapek’s inner circle for years. Then, when the going got tough, she turned on him.
Bob Iger has always prioritized loyalty and trust. McCarthy’s move, while exceptional PR for her in the short term, demonstrates neither.
As such, this prediction suggests that McCarthy will leave Disney in 2023. And I totally buy that.
McCarthy has just unintentionally turned herself into the living embodiment of the Scorpion and the Frog fable.
If you watch someone put a knife in someone else’s back, you’re not going to turn your back on them ever again. It’s just common sense. Iger’s not stupid.
The Obvious Acquisition Rumor
Executive #2 reiterates something I’ve already stated multiple times over the past month.
Iger’s arrival coincides with the ascension of two of his most trusted lieutenants.
Former Disney executives Thomas Staggs and Kevin Mayer are now the co-leaders of Candle Media.
I recognize media holding companies like this one don’t make headline news often, but I’ve tracked Candle for several years.
During that time frame, Staggs and later Mayer have completed their own acquisitions.
They snagged the highly desired production companies of Reese Witherspoon followed by that of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Also, they bought the most popular non-Disney family entertainment series on the planet, CoComelon.
This person suggests the same thing I have. Iger could tacitly acknowledge and correct a past mistake by bringing back either Mayer or Staggs or both to run Disney.
Both individuals trained under Iger for years and have demonstrated that they learned their lessons well. Disney would be in terrific hands with either one.
The question is whether either one would give up their current job to return to Disney. For that to happen, Iger would have to acquire Candle Media.
There’s cause for optimism on this front, as Disney’s Board explored the idea this summer. It didn’t happen because Chapek refused to sign off on the purchase.
He knew that if he did that, he’d effectively be bringing in his replacement. Now, Iger, at least theoretically, needs a replacement. So, the pieces fit.
Other Potential Mergers and Acquisitions
Nobody ever knows what will happen next. If they did, Disney never would have given Chapek a three-year contract extension in June.
Still, my media podcast, Streaming into the Void, has discussed in detail Wall Street and Hollywood’s expectations for the next two years.
The gist is that everyone is bracing for an economic downturn that legitimately might not happen. Even if it doesn’t, streaming service consolidation should occur.
Currently, Warner Bros. Discovery is stripping its own parts to make its operation cheaper to run. Peacock is trying to right the ship after a disastrous first year.
On the plus side, Paramount+ has launched better than anyone could have possibly predicted. However, its ties to traditional linear programming make its future uncertain.
Then, we have the media and streaming titans like Apple, Amazon, Disney, and Netflix.
Many analysts are trying to fit the pieces together on which services merge. Similarly, they wonder whether Apple will acquire anything.
All this leads us to Disney, which fits with any of these rumors, at least generally speaking.
Imagine if Disney acquired Paramount’s assets and gained the Star Trek license in addition to Star Trek. It would own modern sci-fi storytelling.
Alternatively, a mega-merger of Disney with Netflix would solve the latter company’s biggest flaw.
For the most part, Netflix lacks high-quality intellectual property. That’s Disney’s greatest strength.
Finally, we have the longstanding but easily discredited thought that Apple could buy Disney. The pieces don’t seem to fit, but some analysts really want it to happen anyway.
So, this article explores various scenarios and offers predictions.
My Bold Prediction for 2023
Personally, I’m going off the board here.
I suspect Disney’s next acquisition will involve videogame IP. Those licenses are wildly undervalued in the current marketplace relative to films and TV shows.
Meanwhile, Disney has plans in place for Web 3.0, the so-called metaverse, that could exploit gaming IP perfectly.
Think of that transaction as the five-years-from-now equivalent of Disney acquiring Fox’s assets for Disney+. It’s the kind of “thinking ahead” move we’ve come to expect from Bob Iger.
Say what you will about Iger. He always appears five moves ahead of the competition.
This demonstrable skill also explains how he could announce his retirement from Disney in February 2020 but somehow return as the conquering hero after the pandemic has ended in November 2022.
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