Iger made the bold statement in an interview at the annual Sun Valley Conference in Idaho on Thursday (13 July), which is also known as the “summer camp for billionaires”.
“There have been some disappointments. We would have liked some of our more recent releases to perform better,” Iger, 72, told CNBC’s David Faber.
“It’s reflective not as a problem from a personnel perspective, but I think in our zeal to basically grow our content significantly to serve mostly our streaming offerings, we ended up taxing our people way beyond – in terms of their time and their focus – way beyond where they had been.
“Marvel’s a great example of that,” Iger added. “They had not been in the TV business at any significant level. Not only did they increase their movie output, but they ended up making a number of television series, and frankly, it diluted focus and attention. That is, I think, more of the cause than anything.”
Earlier this year, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania – the third instalment in the Paul Rudd-led superhero saga – sank at the box office earning $476m (£363m) worldwide, which is barely above Disney’s pandemic-era Marvel movies.
Iger also spoke about the recent disappointment of Pixar’s Elemental, which he put down to the consecutive release of Pixar movies on Disney+ during the pandemic.
“There were three Pixar releases in a row that went direct to streaming, in part because of – mostly because of Covid,” Iger said. “And I think that may have created an expectation in the audience that they’re going to eventually be on streaming and probably quickly, and there wasn’t an urgency. And then I think there was some, I think you’d have to agree that there were some creative misses, as well.”
In the same interview, Iger hit out at the looming actors’ union strike. “This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption,” he said of Sag-aftra’s imminent strike, which coincides with the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike.
In June, over 1,000 actors, including several-well known celebrities, namely Meryl Streep, John Leguizamo, Jennifer Lawrence, Constance Wu and Ben Stiller, signed a letter to guild leadership, declaring that they were “prepared to strike”.
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