Bob Chapek Named Disney CEO

Former home entertainment executive Bob Chapek has been named CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

Chapek most recently served as chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.

Former CEO Robert A. Iger assumes the role of executive chairman and will direct the company’s creative endeavors, while leading the board “and providing the full benefit of his experience, leadership and guidance to ensure a smooth and successful transition through the end of his contract on Dec. 31, 2021,” according to a Disney press release.

(L-R): Bob Iger and Bob Chapek at the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. (Photo by Business Wire)

In Chapek’s new role as CEO, he will directly oversee all the company’s business segments and corporate functions and will report to executive chairman Iger and the board of directors. He will be appointed to the board at a later date. A new head of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products will be named at a future time.

“With the successful launch of Disney’s direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of 21st Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO,” Iger said in a statement. “I have the utmost confidence in Bob and look forward to working closely with him over the next 22 months as he assumes this new role and delves deeper into Disney’s multifaceted global businesses and operations, while I continue to focus on the company’s creative endeavors.”

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“I am incredibly honored and humbled to assume the role of CEO of what I truly believe is the greatest company in the world, and to lead our exceptionally talented and dedicated cast members and employees,” Chapek said in a statement. “Bob Iger has built Disney into the most admired and successful media and entertainment company, and I have been lucky to enjoy a front-row seat as a member of his leadership team. I share his commitment to creative excellence, technological innovation and international expansion, and I will continue to embrace these same strategic pillars going forward. Everything we have achieved thus far serves as a solid foundation for further creative storytelling, bold innovation and thoughtful risk-taking.”

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Chapek served as Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products since the segment’s creation in 2018, and prior to that was chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts since 2015.

Bob Chapek (right) with fellow home entertainment division presidents Mike Dunn (20th Century Fox), David Bishop (Sony Pictures) and Steve Beeks (Lionsgate) at the 2007 CES, showcasing Blu-ray Disc.

From 2011 to 2015, Chapek was President of the former Disney Consumer Products segment. Prior to that, he served as president of distribution for The Walt Disney Studios and was responsible for overseeing the studios’ overall content distribution strategy across multiple platforms including theatrical exhibition, home entertainment, pay TV, digital entertainment and new media.

He also served as president of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, where he spearheaded the successful “vault strategy” for the company’s iconic animated classics. They would be released on home video for a limited time before being returned to the “vault,” a practice that led to spikes in demand — and a series of home video sales records.

Chapek also played a key role in transitioning home entertainment from DVD to Blu-ray Disc, characterizing the latter as an “evolutionary” format — a prediction that has come true, as Blu-ray Disc is now the conduit for the latest technological advance in home viewing, 4K Ultra HD.

Speaking on an investor call shortly after the transition announcement, Iger said that even though he has nearly two years left on his contract, the change was being made now because he felt he needed to start focusing on the company’s creative strategy in the wake of the acquisition of the 20th Century Fox studio assets and the launch of the Disney+ streaming service.

“With the asset base in place and with our strategy essentially deployed, I decided I should be spending as much time as possible on the creative side of our business,” Iger said. “That becomes the biggest priority. Getting everything right creatively would be my number one goal. The best way to do that was to turn over day to day management of the company to Bob [Chapek] and free me up to focus on the creative side.”

 

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