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Lawmakers in This State Passed Legislation Defying on Parental Rights
Tipsheet

Is Disney About to Fire Its CEO?

AP Photo/Richard Drew, File

As the showdown between The Walt Disney Company and Florida Republicans comes to a head with the passage of a bill to strip Walt Disney World of its special district status, Bob Chapek's tumultuous tenure as CEO of Disney has come into glaring focus. 

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Facing criticism from all sides, Chapek — who replaced former CEO Bob Iger — appears to be on thin ice with growing calls for the embattled leader to step aside in order to let Disney right its ship. 

As The New York Post reported on Wednesday as the Florida Senate passed the bill to strip Disney's Florida resort of its autonomy, there are growing calls for Chapek to go and Iger to return as Disney's CEO, even if just for a little while.

According to The Post, "Hollywood insiders" are questioning "whether 71-year-old Iger, who stepped down as executive chairman in December, would be able to restrain himself from reaching for the wheel at Disney after a series of missteps by Chapek" that it characterized as a "fumbling response" to Florida's recently signed parental rights law.

Chapek, at first, stayed silent on the legislation as it made its way through Florida's House and Senate, but then caved to pressure from Disney employees and came out strongly against the bill, pledging to do whatever necessary to overturn the law. 

"Chapek’s flip-flop has drawn heat from critics on both the left and right," The Post's report noted. "A letter from Pixar employees slammed Disney’s 'hollow' claims of support while some corporate workers staged a walkout, among other dustups."

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Here's what those insiders told The Post about Chapek's apparently uncertain future at Disney:

“I don’t think this would have happened under Iger,” said a source who has worked for both men. “Disney now finds itself in the middle of a culture war and it shouldn’t have been there.”

“Chapek’s contract is up in a year and a half,” another Hollywood executive added. “I’d be worried.”

“Bob Chapek isn’t confident in defusing situations,” according to the source. “He clams up. Chapek doesn’t read the room well.”

“He’s not famous for his people skills,” said one source who has worked with Chapek. Another person with knowledge offered: “You can tell when Chapek is angry because he turns red.”

These are issues that, as the sources noted, weren't as pronounced under Iger. "Iger, meanwhile, is a 'master' at not showing his true feelings, is 'super disciplined' and able to 'compartmentalize' his anger, the source said."

The handling of Disney's response to Florida's parental rights law is only the latest issue that's marred Chapek's time as CEO. He has raised ticket prices for Disney World and Disneyland, increased the cost for food and drinks within the parks, and rolled out extra-expensive experiences such as a Star Wars hotel that runs from $5,000 to $20,000 for a weekend-long stay. Meanwhile, wait times in Disney parks have increased and visitor satisfaction has gone down as a result. 

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Then, from a financial standpoint, The Post also notes sources say he shows "glaring weaknesses" that could "seal his fate." From a shareholder perspective, Disney was one of 2021's five "worst-performing" stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, per an Investors Business Daily report

Whether Iger would step back into the CEO role at Disney remains to be seen, but Chapek's job security is anything but air-tight. After Florida's Senate passed the bill to dissolve Disney World's special district, the legislation heads to Governor DeSantis' desk for signature, a move that could be another nail in Chapek's employment coffin.

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