Disney has granted CEO Bob Chapek a three-year extension on his contract, despite recent controversies creating speculation in Hollywood that he was feeling insecure about his position.
The Disney board voted unanimously in favor of the extension, which begins on July 1 and runs into 2025. His salary will remain unchanged at $2.5 million, but his performance-based bonus will increase to at least $20 million. He made about $32.5 million in 2021.
“Disney was dealt a tough hand by the pandemic, yet with Bob at the helm, our businesses — from parks to streaming — not only weathered the storm but emerged in a position of strength,” Disney board chair Susan Arnold said in a press release. “In this important time of growth and transformation, the Board is committed to keeping Disney on the successful path it is on today, and Bob’s leadership is key to achieving that goal. Bob is the right leader at the right time for The Walt Disney Company, and the Board has full confidence in him and his leadership team,” the board said.
Arnold had previously said Chapek had “the support and confidence of the Board” after his unexpected move to fire Disney’s top TV executive, Peter Rice earlier in June.
In the same release, Chapek said: ““Leading this great company is the honor of a lifetime, and I am grateful to the Board for their support. I started at Disney almost 30 years ago, and today have the privilege of leading one of the world’s greatest, most dynamic companies, bringing joy to millions around the world. I am thrilled to work alongside the incredible storytellers, employees, and Cast Members who make magic every day.”
Since being promoted to replace longtime CEO Bob Iger just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, Chapek has drawn the ire of diehard Disney theme park bloggers and influencers for what they see as his cheap, character-heavy approach to their beloved parks.
Pete Werner of The DIS, for instance, repeatedly refers to Chapek as “Lex Luthor,” and WDW News Today’s Tom Corless has continued to say it has been “at war” with the company since Chapek became Disney’s parks chief in 2015 prior to becoming CEO. In fact, WDWNT’s article on Chapek’s extension refers to him as “unpopular,” without offering any evidence.
There have been legitimate controversies during Chapek’s tenure, however. In 2021, he was on the defensive after Disney was sued by actress Scarlett Johansson over lost profits for its hybrid release of “Black Widow; Disney eventually settled for a reported $40 million. More recently, he drew criticism from both liberal Disney employees and conservative Florida politicians for the company’s initial silence, then condemnation, of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Financially, however, it would appear Disney’s theme parks are thriving under Chapek. In the company’s most recent quarterly earnings report, per capita guest spending jumped by more than 40 percent compared to 2019. Chapek credited the change to the Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane systems customers now purchase to make ride reservations at Disney World and Disneyland.