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Bob Iger’s back in charge at Disney – here are 5 things he needs to change

Should the returning CEO implement these ideas, maybe the studio can get rapidly back on track

Jacob Stolworthy
Wednesday 23 November 2022 07:51 GMT
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever official trailer

In entertainment news branded “the biggest of the year”, Bob Iger has returned to Disney as CEO.

For those wondering why this particular update is causing so much excitement (the announcement was reportedly met with cheers at Disney World), Iger is the man behind some of the most lucrative deals in the studio’s history.

It’s thanks to Iger that Disney acquired Pixar, Lucasfilm and, yes, Marvel, in deals that cost and, more importantly, made billions. His contract expired in 2020 after 15 years at the top, with Bob Chapek taking over.

Chapek failed to instil confidence in Disney lovers in the same way that Iger did, though in fairness to him, the majority of his tenure occurred during a pandemic. For reasons unknown, Chapek has now stepped down as CEO, with a very unexpected memo going out to staff members on Sunday (20 November).

Iger’s return has been heralded by Disney lovers, who have probably been wishing upon many stars for news such as this. However, not everything will be immediately fixed. Below, we run through the five things Iger should implement that could help restore harmony at Disney.

A ban on Pixar follow-ups

It’s been six years since Pixar released a decent follow-up (Finding Dory) and 12 years since a truly great one (Toy Story 3) – even if, by admitting that, I do feel a little traitorous to the underrated prequel Monsters University. But this stat strongly hints that Pixar struggles to recapture magic when existing properties are concerned. Instead of tainting the legacy of what came before, it should busy itself with creating new worlds, characters and stories that cause existential crises. Iger should ensure that the recently announced Inside/Out 2 will be the last follow-up for a long while.

‘Toy Story 4’ was one of a handful of weak Pixar sequels to have been released in recent years (Pixar)

No more fan-service TV shows

Here’s looking at you, Star Wars, whose woeful TV shows The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi coasted on nostalgia to the detriment of pretty much any creativity. Then Andor came along and showed that a Star Wars series that shunned surprise cameos, references and Easter eggs, designed to generate social media retweets, could actually exist on its own merit as a great standalone series. How did it do this? By not busying itself with what’s come before. Creator Tony Gilroy has established a blueprint for what all Disney+ TV shows – not just Star Wars ones – should abide by. More, please.

Diego Luna in the acclaimed ‘Andor’ (Disney)

A halt on Star Wars movies

If there’s one thing that Andor has shown, it’s that taking time to present and flesh out a new story and fresh set of characters is the key to success when it comes to a franchise whose legacy has been bruised. The problem here is that not anyone can just create something matching Andor ‘s quality – and nor should they try. Any new film series will be botched by those up high who believe in administering an adrenaline shot of nostalgia if only to ensure audiences will flock to cinemas. Andor worked because it was a TV show; trying to emulate its success on the big screen could, and probably would, end in a Rise of Skywalker-style disaster.

New ‘Star Wars’ films could continue to tarnish its legacy (Lucasfilm)

Fewer Marvel films

This one will never happen, but here goes: while it might sound counterproductive, as every Marvel film makes a killing at the box office, it’s time to be honest about the state of the MCU. Since 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, these films are getting weaker. The excitement surrounding each release appears to have dwindled somewhat, too. Earlier this month, a new poll, conducted by Fandom, found that a third of Marvel fans feel fatigued from the flurry of titles released each year. The only way, then, to wake people up is surely to greenlight less and ensure that what’s being put out there is the best it can be. If the MCU wants to retain its quality, less could be more.

Marvel’s movie output since 2019 has... not been the greatest (Marvel Studios)

Release films in cinemas

Perhaps an obvious one, this, but Iger should stop the same day-and-date theatrical and streaming release strategy with immediate effect. Gone also should be a film’s addition to Disney+ around a month after its cinema release, which is a cynical ploy to keep people interested in subscribing. Under Chapek, Disney’s market worth dropped from $260bn (£220bn) to $167bn (£141bn), which is due to an emphasis on luring people to the streaming service. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have it in the mix, but it’s time to start re-encouraging audiences to enjoy these films as a community.

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