Bob Iger Confirms Disney Hiring Freeze, Quashes Apple Acquisition Rumors at Disney Town Hall

Bob Iger launched his return term as Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company with a town hall address from the Mouse House’s Burbank, Calif. headquarters today, livestreamed to Disney employees around the world. Noting that there is “a lot do to — quickly,” Iger laid out a few key points now that he has tagged out his successor, Bob Chapek:

  • The hiring freeze announced by Chapek (along with staff reductions and other cost-cutting measures) November 11 is going ahead.
  • Chatter about Disney possibly acquiring or merging with Apple are “pure speculation” according to Iger, who oversaw the company’s subsumption of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Fox over his previous sting at the helm. He added that the company is not looking to make any major acquisitions any time soon.
  • In what a source described as an anti-climactic response to a question about Chapek-Disney’s much criticized handling of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Iger prevaricated by reiterating that “One of the core values of our storytelling is inclusion, and acceptance and tolerance,” and added that it should not be a political issue.

Iger resumed the top post on November 20, less than a year after retiring and leaving Chapek in charge. He swiftly cleared out many of his successor’s key appointees and inspired a brief boost to Disney shares, which have since ebbed nearly 3% to about $96. Before Iger climbed back in the saddle, Disney stock had dropped to $86.28, the lowest prize tag since early 2020.

The self-described “Boomerang CEO” now has a 24-month contract within which navigate low revenue and profit growth predictions for fiscal 2023 due to the strain of the company’s big streaming push, as well as reassess divisional organization throughout the entertainment giant and stabilize its leadership — including a mandate to find a successor for himself that will stick.

In the immediate future, Disney faces a bumpy box-office road, with the success of Marvel release Wakanda Forever somewhat dimmed by animated original Strange World’s lackluster Thanksgiving opening. Both Mickey’s crew and industry watchers are pinning high hopes on the long-awaited Avatar: The Way of Water (Dec. 16), which Disney snagged in its Fox acquisition, with hopes that James Cameron’s return to Pandora will have a similarly explosive success to the first record-setting film.

[Source: Deadline]

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