Bob Iger Takes Grotesque $31 Million Salary While Disney Announces Mass Layoffs

in Disney

Bob Iger stands in the foreground with a thoughtful expression, with an artistic, vibrant depiction of a fairy tale castle seen through an arched stone doorway in the background.

Credit: Inside the Magic

After months of near-constant layoffs, slashed budgets, and canceled projects, Disney CEO Bob Iger was paid a grotesquely huge $31 million in 2023, nearly 600 times what most employees in the company earn for their work.

Bob Iger with Iron Man and the Mandalorian
Credit: Inside the Magic

Bob Iger on Higher Wages: “Not Realistic”

Bob Iger served as the chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company for an impressive 15 years, beginning his first stint as Mouse Leader in 2005. He left the position in 2021, handing over the reins to Bob Chapek; he stayed at the company as an “advisor” to Chapek, and, reportedly, the succession was extremely rocky.

Just a few years later, Bob Chapek was ousted by the Disney board of directors amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, crashing box office grosses, and a huge political feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Bob Iger was brought back as CEO to right the ship, but the waves of Disney have been choppy regardless of how much he craved being back in his old office.

Bob Iger (left) and Bob Chapek (right) at 'Star Wars': Galaxy's Edge
Credit: Disney

Iger returned as CEO with the promise that he would save investors $5.5 billion dollars, which has meant a continuing series of layoffs across Disney, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios, eliminating budgets and entire creative departments, canceling high-profile movies and films left and right, and, in short, everything but reducing his own immense salary.

Related: 71% of Americans Reject Bob Iger’s Disney, Demand Return To ”Wholesome Programming”

The CEO has also not improved his own personal image since he’s been back. In particular, Bob Iger raised public ire during the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes of 2023 when he claimed that the employees who produced the content on which Hollywood runs had unrealistic expectations of how much the industry could pay them.

Notoriously, the Disney CEO told CNBC’s Squawk Box with David Faber that the striking workers were to blame for the state of the entertainment industry, saying, “It’s very disturbing to me. We’ve talked about disruptive forces on this business and all the challenges we’re facing, the recovery from COVID which is ongoing, it’s not completely back. This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption.”

As though that were not enough, Iger followed up by saying that the striking workers, including Disney employees, were expecting too much pay and job protection. He said, “There’s a level of expectation that they have, that is just not realistic. And they are adding to the set of the challenges that this business is already facing that is, quite frankly, very disruptive.”

She-Hulk screaming from She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
Credit: Marvel Studios

This caused a fairly immediate backlash from the public, the stars of Disney projects, and, naturally, the strikers themselves. What it did not cause, however, was Hollywood C-suites from giving themselves grotesque double-digit salaries.

What Should a Disney CEO Earn?

For decades, the salaries of corporate executives have been rising; in 2022, the average American CEO earned $16.7 million, compared to the average worker’s $61,900 (per AFL-CIO). A report from the Economic Policy Institute states that the pay packages of CEOs have skyrocketed a truly astonishing 1,460% since 1978 and that “[i]mportantly, rising CEO pay does not reflect a rising value of skills but rather CEOs’ use of their power to set their own pay.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger is part of this problem, despite his talk of reducing costs across the company.

Disney CEO Bob Iger looking worried in front of the Walt Disney Company building.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Financial disclosures (per Variety) show that Bob Iger earned a reprehensible $31.6 million in 2023, which includes $26.1 million in stock awards and options and a $2.1 million bonus. The median Disney employee earns just $54,010, meaning that Iger earns 595 times that.

Related: “Not Sustainable, Not Acceptable”: CEO Bob Iger Gives Up on Disney+

This is particularly noticeable in the wake of a recent Disney earnings call that sent the company’s stock plummeting to its lowest point in 18 months and has already caused major chaos in Central Florida, where the Walt Disney World Resort is located. Iger is currently pinning as many hopes as he can on teaming up with other major companies to share IP and push consumers to purchase bundled streaming packages, which is also a risky proposition.

Bob Iger fading over Disney logo
Credit: Edited by Inside the Magic

But in terms of the aforementioned “rising value of skills” of CEOs, it is worth noting that Bob Iger also revealed on the earnings call that he had a master strategy for turning things around, saying, “I’ve been working hard with the studio to reduce output and focus more on quality… I feel really good about what’s coming up.”

To translate, Bob Iger’s plan is to put out more good movies and TV shows and less bad ones. That’s the kind of thinking that earns you $31.6 million, apparently.

Do you think Bob Iger earned his pay package as Disney CEO? Tell us in the comments below!

in Disney

View Comments (11)