On November 21, arguably the biggest entertainment news of the year broke without warning when Disney CEO Bob Chapek was suddenly forced to step down, allowing Disney's former CEO Bob Iger to return.
Since Chapek's contract had been extended to at least 2025, few expected his swift and sudden removal; but that's not to say it wasn't welcomed.
The former CEO's three-year tenure had been highly criticized for a number of reasons, ranging from his handling of Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit and other Disney talent to his focus on cutting costs and paywalls.
But even though Chapek's reign has come to an end, the effects of his decisions are still being felt in certain corners of the company.
How Chapek Changed Disney's Market
In talking with The Hollywood Reporter, a top industry executive explained how Disney's former CEO, Bob Chapek, damaged Disney's market, saying, "Chapek f***** up one of the great movie businesses of all time:"
“Chapek f***** up one of the great movie businesses of all time. Disney for years had won the movies. You conditioned your audience that Disney animated events are no longer special.”
Following the pandemic's shuttering of movie theaters, Disney relied on Disney+ as a direct pipeline to consumers.
However, while Marvel films eventually returned to theaters, Pixar had a different experience.
In addition to Luca and Soul being released straight to Disney+, Pixar's Turning Red was also denied a theatrical release, despite audiences filling up theaters for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
An industry agent expressed concerns that Chapek's actions may have long-reaching effects, stating, "He’s hurt the long-term family market, obviously. That’s not going to be so fast to come back.”
How Bob Iger Already Reversed Chapek's Decisions
In the days following Bob Chapek's removal, further details about the inner workings of the Disney Company under the CEO have been revealed, including the influence of Disney's Media & Entertainment Distribution division.
Headed by Chapek lieutenant Kareem Daniel, this division - not studio heads - determined distribution.
Since Chapek was so focused on the performance of Disney+, it appears that Disney family films, including those from Pixar Studios, were sacrificed to the streaming service for the sake of subscriptions.
Whether audiences can be reconditioned to return to theaters and how long that may take remains to be seen. But Bob Iger has already taken action.
One of Iger's first directives upon his return was the reorganization of Chapek's Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution division in order to put "more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams..."
Therefore, it seems safe to say that audiences shouldn't expect Pixar's upcoming slate to drop on Disney+ until after a theatrical window.
But again, just how the family demographic will respond and how that will affect Pixar's tradition at the box office will be interesting to see.