Former Disney CEO Bob Iger Commends Studio’s Focus on Disney+ Amid Pandemic
By Movieguide® Staff
Former CEO and chairman of the board Bob Iger recently defended The Walt Disney Co. for adapting its standard legacy theatrical movie and TV business to focus on streaming during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It all worked out and it worked out great,” Iger said after receiving an honorary Clio Award.
The pandemic resulted in an almost immediate change in traditional cinema and entertainment and forced Disney to make a quick and risky decision.
“The move from, essentially, traditional forms of distribution — whether for movies or television shows, from linear channels, cable and satellite — to Disney+ and Hulu and ESPN+ was a tremendous risk,” Iger said.
Iger was Disney’s CEO until February 2020, a month before COVID-19 forced significant closures. But Iger supported Disney’s focus on Disney+ and believes that the current system is here to stay in some form.
“People have gotten a lot more comfortable watching movies and television shows in their homes, particularly using new technology to do so,” Iger said. “For the most part, that’s good for our business. And that’s certainly one example of disruption that was beginning, then hastened, and will probably be here to stay.”
Iger’s comments echo the thoughts of Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
Movieguide® previously reported:
Walt Disney Company chief executive Bob Chapek revealed that the entertainment conglomerate would consider a new strategy for movie releases and not return to pre-pandemic theatrical windows.
“I think the consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before,” Chapek said during a recent Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Conference. “Particularly since now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting titles at home pretty much when they want them. So I’m not sure there’s going back, but we certainly don’t want to do anything like cut the legs off a theatrical exhibition run.”
Chapek noted that Disney is still committed to its commitment to theatrical releases, which earned over $13 billion in 2019 across a record-setting 11 movies. While Chapek acknowledged that those movies “will continue to be a big deal” to Disney, he also recognized how COVID-19 could result in “profound” audience changes.
“I don’t think they’ll have much of a tolerance for a title, say, being out of theatrical for months, yet it hasn’t had a chance to actually be thrown into the marketplace in another distribution channel, just sort of sitting there getting dust,” Chapek said.