Disney has been in the throes of both internal and external upheaval.
The company has made a concerted effort to tack to the left.
And Disney retaliated against Donald Trump with one stunning maneuver.
Disney CEO Bob Iger is back at the helm after reportedly usurping hand-picked successor Bob Chapek.
While Chapek had more moderate-to-libertarian politics, Iger is a liberal lion who criticized Chapek for his reluctance to fight Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
However, Iger also acknowledged that the fractious conflict was not fruitful and wanted to steer the company away from such strife.
In 2022, Disney had its worst stock performance since the 1970s, and Iger is attempting to right the ship by slashing payroll.
One of Iger’s biggest cuts was Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter, whom – ironically – is notorious for his frugality and cost-cutting measures.
Perlmutter is also a Donald Trump megadonor who supported him in 2016, 2020, and plans to do so again in 2024.
Perlmutter backed Nelson Peltz’s play to get onto Disney’s board, which was rejected by Iger.
Trian Fund Management, Peltz’s asset management firm, has a $900 million stake in Disney.
Peltz wrote in a letter to shareholders, “Trian believes that Disney’s recent performance reflects the hard truth that it is a company in crisis with many challenges weighing on investor sentiment…As such, we believe that the Company’s current problems are primarily self-inflicted and need to be addressed immediately…”
Peltz ceased his attempts to get on the board when Iger proposed major cuts to get Disney’s books in order.
Peltz was perhaps surprised to learn one of Iger’s cuts was his friend Perlmutter.
The so-called mainstream media tried to insinuate that Perlmutter was a racist on his way out the door.
The New York Times reported that “Mr. Perlmutter made it clear that he did not like Mr. Iger’s politics…Mr. Iger is a Democrat who has been vocal about inclusion; he championed films like Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ even as Mr. Perlmutter resisted.”
The implication is clear: support for Trump and resistance to Black Panther is one step away from KKK membership.
Another cut made by Iger was Disney’s foray into Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse, one of the projects championed by Chapek.
The deep-sixing of the Metaverse team was part of Disney’s goal of slashing $5.5 billion in payroll.
Iger announced, “I want to acknowledge that there will no doubt be challenges ahead as we continue building the structures and functions that will enable us to be successful moving forward.”
Perhaps the bigger problem for Iger is what to do about the political direction of the company.
Iger is a staunch Democrat and radical leftists within the company have been empowered.
But recent history has shown that audiences are not particularly interested in excessively “woke” programming.
The animated kids’ film Lightyear included a lesbian relationship, and it was the first misfire in the Toy Story universe.
Iger has to figure out a way to rein in the politics without causing a mutiny inside the halls of Disney.