July 18, 2024

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Disney CEO Bob Iger says movies have been too focused on messaging

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New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, left, and Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, speak during the Times’ annual DealBook Summit in New York City, Nov. 29, 2023.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said Wednesday he will no longer tolerate his company’s partners and creative team prioritizing messaging over storytelling.

“Creators lost sight of what their No. 1 objective needed to be,” Iger said at the DealBook Summit in New York on Wednesday. “We have to entertain first. It’s not about messages.”

Iger has recently pushed to improve the quality of Disney films in 2024 and beyond. He is cutting back the number of movies Disney makes to focus on making better films. Earlier this week, he told Disney employees at a town hall that creating hit movies is the best way the company can change perception for investors and employees.

Iger said Disney’s prioritization of messaging over storytelling peaked “while [he] was gone” in 2022, alluding to the 11 months he left his job as Disney’s executive chairman. Iger had been in charge of “creative endeavors” in 2020 and 2021, even while Bob Chapek ran the company as CEO.

“We have entertained with values and with having a positive impact on the world in many different ways. ‘Black Panther’ is a great example of that,” Iger said. “I like being able to entertain if you can infuse it with positive messages and have a good impact on the world. Fantastic. But that should not be the objective. When I came back, what I have really tried to do is to return to our roots.”

Disney has dealt with blowback from Republican politicians, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and critics on social media for including a same-sex kiss in 2022’s “Lightyear” and an openly gay character in 2022’s “Strange World.” 2023’s “Elemental” also includes a nonbinary character.

While Disney has a long history of infusing storytelling with positive morals, Iger acknowledged during…

2023-11-30 15:29:59

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