I’ve been hearing some talk since Iger’s unexpected departure yesterday. Mostly, it’s about Bob Chapek and is he really the guy to take over from Bob Iger? Is he just a caretaker until the inevitable mines finish exploding and someone else takes over for him? Is Chapek going to be an improvement?
I’ll answer the last one first. No. No, he won’t. Sure he’s a graduate of MSU and he comes from the Midwest like Walt did. Plus, he’s been with the company for twenty-seven years and he’s worked in every division of it. That’s the plus side. The flip side is that every decision he’s made since taking over Disney Parks has made the experience worse for guests. There has been a barrage of price hikes across the board. And services that used to be provided gratis are now costing and arm and a leg.
The deal used to be that if you went to a Disney Park you paid BIG upfront but then you didn’t have to pay for anything else. You could go to Disney World for a week and not have to buy anything to include top of the line meals at their best restaurants (Victoria And Albert’s excluded naturally) . If you wanted a twenty dollar Mickey Mouse ears that was on you. But now you get penny pinched left and right. They even charge for overnight parking at the resorts now.
A lot of the charm is being replaced by movie tie-ins. There were always a few of those at the parks but now every new ride has to synergize with an existing Disney IP. So you won’t see anything like Expedition Everest from now on.
Is he the man to replace Iger? Well obviously, he already has, but let’s not over rate Bob Iger here. When Eisner had his dust up with Roy Disney, Iger sided (carefully) with Roy and survived the mass executions. He himself looked like a very temporary replacement until he undid Eisner’s last and biggest fuck-up by repairing the breech with Pixar. For those of my readers too young to remember there was a brief period where Pixar was not only independent but had given Disney the finger and stormed off.
Iger had come up in the world of mergers and acquisitions so he fell back on his default skill set and merged Disney with Pixar. He brought John Lasseter on board as the creative director for all of Disney.
That being the other thing that has been making me laugh. The worry that Chapek isn’t creative enough. Neither was Bob Iger! He always had to rely on somebody else to do that for him. Say what you want about Eisner he had a decent record for spotting talent. Iger never did. The only thing he could do was look at a balance sheet and guess at future income levels based on past performance. That worked brilliantly for Kevin Feige. Indifferently for John Lasseter. And disastrously for Kathleen Kennedy. I don’t think Chapek is going to be any different from Iger in this regard.
Is he a caretaker/dupe? Is he just the guy who has been hired to be the fall guy for the inevitable disasters that will come from Woke Marvel? Is he supposed to provide cover for Iger’s preferred heir? The answer is a hard NO. He is not some interim lightening rod cum scape goat. You have to remember, these people don’t think Woke Marvel is going to fail. They believe it’s going to be a multi-billion dollar money making machine just like the Tony Stark cycle of films was.
Last and biggest question, will he be an improvement over Bob Iger?
No, Bob Iger would never have let him get ahead if that was the case. Bob Chapek will be just like Bob Iger if not worse. Sorry if you were hoping to hear something better.