Bob Iger Represented a Creative Decline at Disney

Published on February 25, 2020

In a shocking turn of events, Bob Iger stepped down as the Disney CEO. After 15 years in the captain’s chair, Disney’s movies thrived financially and declined creatively. Iger’s time at Disney will be remembered with mixed feelings. What Iger accomplished at Disney these last few years is a stunning personal accomplishment, but he was no true movie fan, and it showed in the movies he made. Iger, at times, represented the best and worst of the fimmaking business.

The Wealth Disparity 

Iger was paid very handsomely as Disney CEO. In 2019, it was reported he made $65.7 million. He earned 1,400 times as much as a typical Disney employee, which disgusted Walt Disney’s granddaughter, Abigail Disney. People who work at Disney parks often have to sleep in their cars to get by. Disney raises park ticket prices, not park employees’ paychecks. “Let me very clear,” Disney once wrote. “I like Bob Iger. I do NOT speak for my family but only for myself. Other than owning shares (not that many) I have no more say in what happens there than anyone else. But by any objective measure a pay ratio over a thousand is insane.” Iger made that large chunk of change when Fox was acquired, but how much more he was paid than park employees should never be forgotten.

The 20th Century Fox Buy

When Disney consumed the studio, it was a troubling sign of what’s to come for Fox and studio movies. Now that the transition is over, though, Iger believes it’s the right time to step down: 

“With the successful launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of Twenty-First Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO. I have the utmost confidence in Bob and look forward to working closely with him over the next 22 months as he assumes this new role and delves deeper into Disney’s multifaceted global businesses and operations, while I continue to focus on the Company’s creative endeavors.”

When Iger and Disney took control over 20th Century Fox, it was a bad sign. To Fox’s credit, they’d make adult movies. They wouldn’t only produce overly manufactured safe bets. With Fox under Disney’s control, it’s one less place to make adult, challenging or creatively innovative movies. That’s just not Disney’s brand or motivation. 

Iger Didn’t Make Great Original Movies

Under Iger’s reign, Disney lost sight of the company’s original spirit of creativity and originality. Everything Walt Disney stood for, Iger was against. He wasn’t championing original, creative visions and voices, but instead pumped out remakes, comic book movies, Star Wars pictures, and adaptations. During Iger’s 15 years or so at the company, he strengthened and widened Disney’s brand and power but at a cost of creativity.

Iger was a businessman, not a storyteller. It’s why Martin Scorsese was right to compare the movies he made to theme parks, which Iger took serious issue with but remained silent over China’s human rights issues. Again, Iger’s time at Disney is complicated, both good and bad. 

Iger changed the landscape for the worst. Disney now hogs up so many screens with their mega movies, often elbowing out the competition and cinematic voices that should be heard. “There’s room at the table for everyone,” some Disney and Marvel employees would argue, but Disney takes up a lot of room at the table. They left no scraps or leftovers, either. Iger’s 15 years at Disney altered the game. 

The Future Doesn’t Look Bright

With Iger out of the picture, don’t expect much to change at Disney. They’ll keep making the safe bets they’re making, although their upcoming remake of Mulan does look pretty damn good. Replacing Bob is another Bob, Bob Chapek, the CEO of Disney parks. Now, a guy who oversees theme parks is running a movie studio… Again, remember when Martin Scorsese compared Disney and Marvel’s movies to theme parks? Geez, we wonder why…

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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