Disney Has Lost More Than Focus, Iger Needs to Wake Up

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Bob Iger and Walt Disney in front of Sleeping Beauty art

Credit: Inside the Magic

Bob Iger’s recent comments about the “loss of focus” are only the symptom of a much bigger problem facing the Walt Disney Company, but will the corporate figures see that before it’s too late?

Bob Iger with Disney logo
Credit: Inside the Magic

While profits at the Walt Disney Company might be on an upswing, the court of public opinion has been anything but positive in some circles. As the studio deals with multiple flops at the box office and controversial decisions at the theme parks, the once-stellar reputation amongst audiences is fizzling out.

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A great number of factors can be attributed to Disney’s lackluster performance over the past few years. Anything and everything from the effects of COVID-19 to the changes in leadership after the Chapek era to the so-called “woke” direction of Walt Disney Animation and the Walt Disney Studio has been blamed by a very vocal fanbase, but they are all merely the after-effects of the core issue.

Profit Over Passion Will Sink the Walt Disney Company

Iger in front of a Black and White Disney Studio
Credit: Inside the Magic

Since taking over for his maligned protege Bob Chapek, Bob Iger has tried to steer the Disney name back into the public’s good graces since returning to his position of power in 2021, and the results have been mixed at the best of times. Although some things have been repaired and restored, such as certain practices at Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort, things are far from magical these days.

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The fact of the matter is that despite his efforts and intentions, Iger is completely over his head. He’s been thinking more like a businessman and less like a showman, something Walt Disney himself could always balance. Even the great Michael Eisner knew how to play to an audience, and Disney has clearly forgotten its roots.

Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) in 'Lightyear'
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios

Because of this misplacement of priorities, Disney has entered what many call its “Flop Era.” With the poor performance of films like Lightyear (2022), Strange World (2022), and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) nailing Disney to the wall one right after the other, audience perception of the house of mouse has practically bottomed out.

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At the risk of sounding like tin-foil-hat territory, there’s a connection between the majority of Disney’s latest bombs and the movies that have found moderate or sleeper-hit success, like Pixar’s Elemental (2023), Turning Red (2022), and Encanto (2021). They all have one thing that many fans have found lacking in some of the studio’s more recent offerings, passion.

Credit: Pixar

All were passion projects from the directors, producers, or writers involved. For example, Elemental was Peter Sohn’s representation of his parents’ immigrant story told through an animated medium, and Turning Red was greatly inspired by Domee Shi’s own childhood and familial struggles. So where was that in something like Lightyear?

Related: Disney Park Finally Listens to Fans, Creates Original Character

There’s a train of thought that suggests some of Disney’s recent box office failures were designed by marketing and not by artists. Even some of the maligned live-action remakes had an element of passion to drive them (we’re looking at you, Jungle Book (2019)). If Disney has no drive to make the movies apart from money, why should we make the drive to see them?

Where do you think Disney dropped the ball? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!


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