Walt Disney Company Extends Bob Iger’s Contract Through 2026

Iger had returned to Disney in November of 2022

Bob Iger
Bob Iger (Credit: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

The Walt Disney Company announced that they are extending Bob Iger’s contract as CEO through 2026. The former head of the company had returned to the position, after retiring in 2021, in November of 2022.

This is not the first time that the board has extended Iger’s tenure at the company. In fact, this is at least the third time that his contract has been extended — in 2017 (when it was supposed to be up in 2018), when it was extended until 2019 and then later that same year when it was elongated further until 2021.

When he returned to the company in November 2022, after a brief and disastrous run by Iger’s chosen successor Bob Chapek, he swore that he was just there to choose a successor (which he has yet to do) and that he would only run the company for another two years. (Iger is a spry, often-sweatered 72.)

This is a total reversal of that and speaks to the work that still lays ahead for Iger, not just in terms of choosing who will succeed him (Josh D’Amaro, the handsome head of the parks division, and Asad Ayaz, the marketing whiz who was recently named chief brand officer, seem like likely picks) but in terms of the disarray that the company has currently found itself in.

Among its many woes: movies that have failed to connect at the box office, including new offerings from the usually bulletproof Marvel Studios and Pixar; a baffling content purge at Disney+; wavering park attendance, particularly at the Walt Disney World resort complex outside Orlando; and an increasingly contentious relationship with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, which has gone from a war of the worlds to mutually assured thermonuclear destruction.

And it’s the latest fascinating chapter in Iger’s story with the company.

The executive rose in the ranks at ABC from weatherman to president of ABC/Capital Cities, which was then purchased in 1995 by the Walt Disney Company. By 1999, he would become the president of Walt Disney International and chairman of ABC, Inc. In 2000 he was named COO and president. He would go on to succeed Michael Eisner, the CEO and chairman of the board, who became an embattled public figure in the mid-2000s when Roy E. Disney, Walt’s nephew, and his business partner Stanley Gold, launched the Save Disney campaign to oust Eisner.

When that campaign (and shareholder revolt) was ultimately successful, Iger, who Eisner liked but didn’t view as much of a threat, was chosen as the next CEO of the Walt Disney Company, which took effect in 2005. Iger quelled Gold and Disney’s unease and swiftly set about his legacy, absorbing several companies, including Pixar (which at the time was in its own war with Disney), Marvel, Lucasfilm and, ultimately, the 21st Century Fox assets — including its film library and invaluable television IP like “The Simpsons.”

In his memoir “Ride of a Lifetime,” Iger repeatedly stated that he was not a creative executive, something that Eisner, a brainy English graduate, prided himself on. Instead, Iger has been more of a portfolio manager, streamlining operations (he got rid of the troublesome Strategic Planning division that was effectively running Disney) for maximum profitability and inflating the Disney brand into an all-consuming, sky-darkening monolith. Much of the character and color of the Eisner administration, along with that era’s sense of playfulness and impeccable taste, was replaced in the Iger era with a kind of smoothed-out sameness — hotels that look like megachurches, movies that are digitally augmented versions of earlier movies, a streaming service meant for everyone that still struggled to find its voice. This was exacerbated by Chapek’s bumbling reign, which made everything considerably worse.

The months and years ahead will ultimately be the defining closing chapters of the book of Iger. It will be fascinating to see what happens next.