Bob Iger Admits ‘Zeal’ to Create Content for Disney+ ‘Diluted Focus and Attention’ at Marvel, Pixar (Video)

“I think you’d have to agree that there was some creative misses as well,” Iger says of the trouble at Pixar

Bob Iger CODE Conference
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Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledged on Thursday what many had already assessed at this point: Disney’s quest to fill Disney+ with content adversely affected the output of the studio, specifically from Marvel Studios and Pixar.

Speaking to CNBC’s Squawk Box near the Sun Valley conference in Idaho, Iger admitted that the studio’s “zeal” to ramp up content output has led to disappointing results both creatively and commercially.

“There have been some disappointments we would have liked some of our more recent releases to perform better,” he said. “It’s reflective not as a problem from a personnel perspective, but I think in our in our zeal to basically grow our content significantly to serve mostly our streaming offerings, we ended up taxing our people way beyond — in terms of their time and their focus — way beyond where they had been.”

Iger pointed specifically to Marvel Studios, which began creating TV series as part of the interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe with the launch of Disney+.

“Marvel’s a great example of that. They had not been in the TV business at any significant level. Not only did they increase their movie output, but they ended up making a number of television series, and frankly, it diluted focus and attention. That is, I think, more of the cause than anything.”

The CEO, who this week extended his contract through 2026, also admitted that when it comes to Pixar, the studio created an expectation with audiences that those films could be streamed on Disney+, leading to the weak box office opening of “Elemental” last month.

“There were three Pixar releases in a row that went direct to streaming, in part because of — mostly because of COVID,” he said. “And I think that may have created an expectation in the audience that they’re going to eventually be on streaming and probably quickly, and there wasn’t an urgency. And then I think there was some, I think you’d have to agree that there was some creative misses, as well.”

“Elemental” had one of the worst box office openings in Pixar history, but netted positive reviews and has now grossed over $250 million at the worldwide box office. Still, the lackluster performance of recent Pixar films has led many to question the once-bulletproof studio’s brand.

When asked if the loss of Pixar head John Lasseter, who exited the company after admitting “missteps” in the wake of allegations of unwanted touching, was to blame for Pixar’s perceived downturn, Iger seemed to agree, at least in part.

“There’s a lot of talent at Pixar. There has been turnover as well, not just John but there’s been other turnover as well. That may have had some impact,” he said.

Going forward, Iger promised a course correction at Disney overall.

“[There will be a] pullback, not just the focus but it’s also part of our cost containment initiative,” he said. “Spending less on what we make, and making less.”