Bob Chapek is no longer at Disney, replaced by former CEO Bob Iger, who led the company through its greatest period of growth. As people celebrate his return, Marvel fans may want to keep up their cheers. Iger’s return could be less than glorious for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, at least as it unfolds on Disney+.
Disney+ was one of Iger’s creations, like many of Disney’s major initiatives over the past 15 years. In fact, after announcing his retirement, he extended his stay with the company until the end of the fiscal year in 2021. So while Chapek’s tenure lasted just over two years, for more than half Iger was “helping him “. as CEO. However, neither Iger nor Chapek were really involved in the creative process; rather, they set the company’s priorities and let the creative executives get to work making that vision a reality. Kathleen Kennedy brought Lucasfilm’s attention to television as the Star Wars movies have stalled. Marvel Studios may have the exact opposite problem, and Iger may turn his focus back to Marvel movies.
Disney’s Bob Iger has to correct course after Bob Chapek
Disney is not in a situation like Warner Bros. Discovery gutting HBO Max. Iger believes in Disney+ and it has been successful by any reasonable metric. However, when he left Disney, Marvel Studios was on an unprecedented run of critical and box office success. The Disney+ series, by contrast, faced the kind of criticism no MCU story has faced since. Thor: The Dark World. The MCU movies are still leading the box office, but not like before; by Mojo Box Office, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever it fell 63 percent in its second week of theatrical release.
This could be because Disney+ changed the way fans watch the MCU. Instead of one big movie theater experience, the streamer placed the MCU in viewers’ living rooms. In the past two years, Marvel has released more new projects for Disney+ than it has theaters. Iger could pull the emergency brake on the MCU hype train, telling Marvel to focus less on TV series and more on owning the big screen. And Iger may want more vertical integration with other Disney platforms like Hulu or ABC. Marvel Studios makes wonderful movie series, but can they do it on a network TV budget or a network TV tie-in? Iger could make big changes to the MCU’s business plan.
Disney’s Bob Iger Could Stay Out of Kevin Feige’s Way
What value does a CEO have Really provides to a company is an open question. If Iger has any special skills, though, it’s that he knows how to handle creative talent, and Disney is a company built on creative talent. There is no question that the end game for any of these mega studios is to make “all the money.” However, WarnerMedia and Disney’s all-in-on-streaming strategy during the pandemic showed its cards too soon. While it provided a safe option for immunocompromised people to watch new movies, others in the industry saw it as a covert way to starve theaters in their most desperate hour.
Feige then emphasized the importance of seeing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in theaters (for rant on screen) in an attempt to bolster the 2021 box office with the power of the MCU. The film became the most profitable release in Labor Day weekend history, according to Mojo Box Office, and earned more than $430 million. Given that he’s still pretty impressive and Iger has a reputation as a talent-friendly executive, it’s also possible that he trusts Feige to continue leading the MCU as he sees fit.
No doubt Iger will make changes to the way Disney does business. He has to if he hopes to remedy the disasters of the short-lived Chapek era. That could mean the MCU tightens its portfolio strings or regroups to focus more on its big-screen projects, taking away from some of its strengths. But it could also mean that Marvel goes back to being what made it a box office juggernaut.