Disney’s New World Order Leads to Confusion and Bruised Egos

At the corporate level, Iger has moved “much more into the background than he was a few months ago, even on the creative side,” insiders say.

“Everyone is becoming more and more deferential to Chapek,” according to one Disney executive who asked not to be identified.

Others say that Chapek was initially hesitant to assert himself more on the creative side because after he assumed the CEO job in February 2020 his attention was focused largely on dealing with keeping Disney afloat at the height of the pandemic after the company’s theme parks were forced to shut down, production halted and movie theaters closed.

To some inside the media company, Disney’s move last October to restructure its operations elevated the executives who distribute Disney movies and shows over the ones who actually oversee their production.

Disney’s reorganization of its media and entertainment business into three distinct content creation groups — studios, general entertainment and sports — has caused consternation for some senior managers as well as those doing business with the company.

In the restructuring, top division heads have lost oversight of P&L, which has been a tough pill to swallow for the likes of FX chief John Landgraf and Peter Rice, the chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content, who has grown frustrated that some of his responsibilities have been taken away.

When he joined the studio in 2012 after a long and successful tenure at Warner Bros., Horn was tasked with reinvigorating a film division that had suffered from a string of high-profile flops such as “The Lone Ranger” and “John Carter,” as well as the turbulent leadership of Rich Ross, a former Disney Channel chief who had conflicts with some other managers, including the heads of Pixar..

Insiders at Disney say Alan Bergman, the former co-chairman of Walt Disney Studios with Horn, who was recently elevated to chairman of Disney Studios Content, will be taking the reins solo.

While Bergman has been involved in all creative meetings at the studio, many within Disney and in the creative community at large, however, view him as having more business acumen than artistic sensibilities.

Of these heads, Feige is seen as the most essential executive, having proved his mettle with the massive success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and streaming shows like “WandaVision.” After it was announced in 2019 that Feige would produce a “Star Wars” movie, there were rumors that he might assume more control of Lucasfilm.

They also argue that the heads of the Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm brands have their own artistic chops, making it unnecessary to find one studio executive to serve as creative ringmaster.

One source took a philosophical view of the film studio’s structure post-Horn, saying it would “define the ambition of Disney going forward.” If the unit’s longterm plan is to maximize its existing content engines, Bergman will rule the kingdom, they said.

Streaming has upended the old ways of doing business, with consumers spending more money on subscription services like Netflix and less on cable and big-screen movies.

…Read the full story