Disney CEOs Bob Chapek And Bob Iger Reportedly Had An “Extremely Awkward” Falling Out

Disney CEO Bob Chapek has reportedly fallen out with former CEO Bob Iger, causing a rift that could cause issues for the wider company.

The rift apparently started when Iger stepped down as CEO, before announcing that he would then stick around to help in the wake of the pandemic.

“A crisis of this magnitude, and its impact on Disney, would necessarily result in my actively helping Bob [Chapek] and the company contend with it, particularly since I ran the company for 15 years,” he told the New York Times.

According to CNBC, this infuriated Chapek. “Chapek was furious when he saw the story, according to three people familiar with the matter,” they explained. “He had not expressed a need or desire for extra help. He wasn’t looking for a white knight.”

Left: Bob Chapek, Right: Bob Iger (Image credits: David Livingston/Getty Images & Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty)

It’s claimed that Chapek felt that Iger was simply using this as an excuse to stick around. After all, he had already postponed his retirement three times at this point.

“Chapek felt he was essentially doing it again, leaving him as a hapless second banana, according to people familiar with his thoughts. Chapek was already reporting to Iger, the board’s chairman, anyway.”

Iger had served as Disney CEO since 2005, overseeing huge growth for the company. He oversaw Disney’s acquisition of Pixar for $7.4 billion, its acquisition of Marvel for $4 billion, the acquisition of Lucasfilm for $4.06 billion, and the acquisition of 21st Century Fox for $71.3 billion.

But despite these huge wins, Disney didn’t want a fight on its hands. “It was a turning-point moment,” said a CNBC source close to the situation. Since Iger’s comments to The New York Times, the pair have reportedly been unable to fix their working relationship.

This, it seems, has spilled over into the business’s practice. Chapek apparently soon began making key decisions about the company’s future without Iger’s input. This included his decision to out Scarlett Johannson’s pay amid disputes over the release of Black Widow.

“It became clear the executives weren’t speaking with one voice,” noted CNBC sources. One notable incident saw Iger thanking his former colleagues during a party leaving late last year, while barely mentioning Chapek. “It was extremely awkward,” said one of the guests. “The tension was palpable.”

Both Iger and Chapek have stayed silent on their relationship, but it’s thought that these tensions could affect Disney going forward. After all, their differing leadership styles have already been a point of contention at the company.

Disney+ Spotlight: March 2022

Notably, current Disney employees have been angered by Chapek’s response to Florida’s Don’t Say Gay legislation. According to Deadline, this led to Disney staff experiencing “the worst week they’ve ever had working at the company.”

Chapek has sincerely apologized to Disney staff for not fighting hard enough against it. Meanwhile, Iger took a very public stand against the legislation.

Whatever happens, it looks as though Disney has a long way to go to get back on track, and Chapek has a lot to prove. Disney shares have plummeted 30% in the last year alone, and the CEO will need to win the company around to his new leadership soon – Chapek’s current contract ends in February 2023.

Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.

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