In Hollywood stunner, Robert Iger returns to head Disney as Bob Chapek exits
By JOSH LEDERMAN
Jan. 24, 2014
Disney is a corporate behemoth with a global reach that can be hard on its top executives. One of those executives was Bob Chapek, who announced his departure Thursday in a dramatic announcement that was greeted by a chorus of applause from some 2,200 attendees at the Walt Disney Studios, where Iger was promoted to chairman of Disney’s board Friday.
Among those taking to Twitter to gush in excitement was Walt Disney Animation Studios chief John Lasseter, who called Chapek a “remarkable mentor and extraordinary man.” Lasseter posted a picture of Chapek standing in front of a fireplace in his studio, surrounded by toys. In his office, Chapek is seen looking pensive.
The new chairman is an outsider to the Disney board. He received his undergraduate degree in finance from the University of California, Berkeley, before entering law school at NYU.
Chapek said Disney had informed him in December that his contract was up and that he would be moving to an executive position at the company.
“This is a day that I will look back on with pride and satisfaction. And I want to thank you, the many talented employees, the board and the studio for the opportunity you’ve given me,” he said. “The opportunities to work at a place like this and make significant contributions to both of our brands are very exciting.”
Iger said in a written statement that he “had the privilege through my long association in Disney’s Boardroom to witness the very best of the Disney story, and to meet the creative force behind some of the most important characters in animation and entertainment.”
Chapek was a director and co-founder of Paramount Pictures, where he oversaw its animated film production. After working for Universal Pictures and Columbia Pictures, he returned to Disney in 1992 as chief creative officer of its animation unit, where he oversaw the development of DreamWorks Animation’s Oscar-winning “Shrek” and “Cars.”
His tenure brought him to Disney’s top position as chairman, a position he had been in since June 2010, when he replaced Bob Iger, a former Disney executive who served as chairman of both the company and its parent company, The Walt Disney Company. Iger said he hoped Chapek’s departure would “give [Disney]