Bob Iger Has Informally Returned To Disney As It Loses Millions During The Coronavirus Outbreak

It was supposed to be a grand farewell: On February 25, Bob Iger stepped down as CEO of Disney — a position he’d held since 2005. Over his tenure the super-corporation had swollen even bigger in size; it was under him that they bought Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. It was under him that they’d absorbed Fox. He’d released a memoir last fall with a brag of a title, The Ride of a Lifetime. But, as per The New York Times, Iger is now informally back at the company, trying to steer it through waters that, thanks to our current rampaging pandemic, became immediately choppy after his departure.

The NYT reports that, mere weeks after being replaced by Bob Chapek, he’s “effectively returned to running the company,” having “smoothly reasserted control.” One major problem is that the company, which brought in more than $26 billion last year, is reportedly losing around $30 million a day.

That’s because three of their biggest revenue streams are essentially on “pause.” Last year Disney extended their focus to cruise ships and theme parks (beyond Disneyland, Disney World, etc.). Now those ships are empty, as are the parks. ESPN, one of their biggest cash cows, has not aired new sports in almost a month. And no one’s going to the movies.

The one glimmer of hope is Disney+, which recently announced they’d amassed 50 million subscribers. But, the NYT says, “the project is still an investment, years away from generating revenue that could replace a big movie opening in theaters.” On top of that, they need new content, which, for the most part, can’t be generated while everyone’s on lockdown. (Unless humanity gets super into watching famous performers performing in front of webcams in their homes à la the most recent SNL.)

In any case, the mood at Disney is “dire,” says the NYT, and while the exact number of its 223,000 employees who’ve been furloughed has not been revealed, the numbers are reportedly “huge.” (Among the furloughed are 30,000 who work at California resorts and 43,000 in Florida.)

The Times suggests Iger and company are considering ways to bring people back to parks in ways that won’t further spread COVID-19, including, reportedly “taking visitors’ temperatures.” There may also be a reduction in staff, though Iger wouldn’t confirm that, saying that decision would be left to his successor. But in any case, it appears Iger won’t get that Disney happy ending after all, and nor will the hundreds of thousands under his employ.

(Via The New York Times)