When Bob Iger returned to take charge of Disney as CEO from Unlucky Bob Chapek, many viewed him as a savior, riding in on a white charger to save the day. Disney’s stock price had taken a pummelling, Disney+ subscriber growth was flattening, the parks were charging ridiculous prices while quality was falling.
They were about to lose special development status in Florida over an ill-judged political fight, and their two biggest franchises – Star Wars and Marvel – were in varying states of distress. Meanwhile, Pixar’s seemingly unstoppable quality run had ended.
Cometh the hour, cometh the return of the Bob, it seemed. So what is Bob going to do? He spoke at a Morgan Stanley conference this week, and possibly had a bit of a reminder that the Star Wars and comic-reading kids of the 70s and 80s are today’s investors and traders, as he was flat-out asked about the state of Star Wars, and Marvel.
He signaled a change of strategy might be afoot. After a fourth Thor and a third Ant-Man had a rough time with critics and softer box office than expected, it is time for a rethink:
“There are 7,000 characters, there are a lot more stories to tell. What we have to look at Marvel is not necessarily the volume of Marvel stories we’re telling, but how many times we go back to the well on certain characters. Sequels typically work well for us. Do you need a third and a fourth, for instance, or is it time to turn to other characters?”
More new faces, less sequels? Well yes… and no:
“There’s nothing in any way inherently off in terms of the Marvel brand. I think we just have to look at what characters and stories we’re mining. If you look at the trajectory of Marvel in the next five years, there will be a lot of newness. We’re going to turn back to the Avengers franchise with a whole new set of Avengers, for example.”
This is the same Iger who thought there was nothing inherently wrong with Star Wars other than the movie scheduling, either. A falsehood he repeats here:
“Star Wars we made three what we called saga films, which is obviously the successors to George Lucas’s first six. They did very well at the box office, tremendously well as a matter of fact. We’ve made two so-called standalones in Rogue One and Solo.
Rogue One did quite well, Solo was a little disappointing to us. It gave us pause just to think maybe the cadence was a little too aggressive. And so we decided to pull back a bit. We still are developing Star Wars films. We’re going to make sure that when we make one, that it’s the right one, so we are being very careful there.”
So no mention of diminishing returns, an alienated fanbase, core audience driven away by creative idiocy, a flop theme park hotel, and a litany of directors who were fired or who quit? Or the fact that two out of three of your live-action Star Wars shows were of questionable quality too? Something is rotten in the state of Lucasfilm Bob, and it has nothing to do with the calendar.
Maybe the returning Bob The 1st is not quite as across his brief as the cheerleaders would have you believe? The roots of a lot of this rot can be traced back.
It was Iger who allowed the radical progressive culture to take root so deeply in Disney that it exploded in their faces over the Florida row, and resulted in leaked recordings of activist executives discussing pushing their agendas via products. This alienated middle America and its values in the process.
It was Iger who removed Ike Perlmutter from the decision tree around Marvel, and now it is becoming increasingly apparent that it was Perlmutter who reigned in some of the excesses at Marvel Studios and kept some focus. The timelines of movie development directly correlating with the performance and quality drop-off supports this.
It was Iger who kept Kathleen Kennedy in the post and covered for her, long after it became apparent to all observers that the deep-rooted issues at Lucasfilm started with decisions she made.
So for all the fancy talk, isn’t Iger’s first job really to clean up his own mess?
Check back every day for new content at Last Movie Outpost.
To like us on Facebook Click Here
To follow us on Twitter Click Here
See our YouTube channel Click Here