Disney announced the news on Sunday (20 November), revealing that Bob Chapek had chosen to leave the company.
“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Susan Arnold, chairman of the board, said in a statement.
“The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.”
Iger’s return will undoubtedly excite film fans considering he was the one behind Disney’s purchase of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, which has amassed global box office takings of $10bn (£8.45bn) in total.
He was also CEO when the studio acquired Fox, which will see the studio rake in hundreds of millions when Avatar: The Way of Water is released on 16 December.
Film fans have called the news “fantastic”, “a relief” and “the biggest entertainment story of the year”.
Iger told Disney employees that he was “amazed” to be returning, stating that he has “an incredible sense of gratitude and humility” regarding his re-appointment.
He stepped down as CEO in February 2020, and remained on board as executive chairman until December 2021. His new position will last for two years.
Chapek’s exit comes after a tumultuous two years for the studio, with streaming losses leading to a hiring freeze earlier this month. It was also announced that all non-essential travel would be halted.
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The studios’ markest worth dropped from $260bn (£220bn) to $167bn (£141bn) with Chapek as CEO.
In a statement, Iger said: “I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO. Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe – most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration.
“I am deeply honoured to be asked to again lead this remarkable team, with a clear mission focused on creative excellence to inspire generations through unrivaled, bold storytelling.”
In a note to company employees released on Monday (21 November), he addressed the challeenges presented by the pandemic in the last three years.
“I know this company has asked so much of you during the past three years, and these times certainly remain quite challenging, but as you have heard me say before, I am an optimist, and if I learned one thing from my years at Disney, it is that even in the face of uncertainty — perhaps especially in the face of uncertainty — our employees and cast members achieve the impossible.”