Disney’s share price is down 45 percent and is on track for the company’s worst annual stock performance in nearly 50 years after a somewhat tepid opening for its sequel, Avatar: Waterway.
The House of Mouse — which is already planning a hiring freeze and some job cuts — has seen disappointing results beyond a James Cameron movie — on streaming services Disney+ and other flops like Strange World and Lightyear.
Avatar: The Way Of Water grossed $434.5 million at the box office during its global debut, the studio estimated Sunday, after director James Cameron said it needed to earn $2 billion to break even.
While the numbers aren’t a flop, they still trail the company’s share price drop of nearly eight percent and put it on track to its worst result since 1974.
Disney’s share price is down 45 percent and is on track for the company’s worst annual stock performance in nearly 50 years after a somewhat tepid opening for the Avatar: The Way of Water sequel.
The franchise — which has at least one other movie in the box and possibly more — grossed $134 million from North American theaters and another $300.5 million globally for its $434.5 million global opening.
The Way of Water tied with The Batman as the fourth-highest domestic debut of the year, finishing off several Marvel blockbusters such as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($187.4 million in May), and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, ($181 million). dollars in November) and Thor: Love and Thunder ($144.2 million in July).
Disney was aiming for $500 million worldwide, according to Forbes, which caused a negative reaction to its box office results.
It’s been a troubling year for Disney, with Disney+ losing money despite growing subscribers. The streamer lost $1.5 billion in 2022, up from $630 million in 2021.
Perhaps the biggest blow to the company was outgoing CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of Florida’s supposed “Don’t Say Jay” bill. It was reported that Chapek was fired after receiving numerous internal complaints from senior employees that the executive was running the company off the ground.
Former CEO Bob Iger — who surprisingly returned to the top job last month — has said publicly and privately that he didn’t like the way Chapek handled everything, from the fight with Ron DeSantis that led to the company losing major tax breaks, to autonomy, to Scarlett Johansson’s contract dispute over Black Widow.
Bob Iger (pictured left) fought the decision to name his controversial successor Bob Chapek (pictured right). He surprisingly returned to the top job last month
Egger and Chapek appear to have clashed over the company’s response to Covid and their policy decisions, as the two had very different advisory teams.
Egger allegedly said he did not know that Čapek was a “newbie” when it came to addressing these issues.
For his part, Chapek was furious with Egger for continuing to meddle in matters he felt he had a duty to deal with, especially during Covid, calling Egger’s offer to help during the pandemic a “slap in the face” according to one executive.
Egger later regretted stepping down while Covid continued to hurt the company.
“If he had known and understood the scope of the pandemic, he wouldn’t have stepped down when he did,” said a former Disney executive.
Chapek acquired the company in February 2020 and generated $32.5 million in the year to October 2, 2021.
His compensation consisted of $2.5 million in salary, $10.2 million in stocks, and $3.8 million in stock options—plus a $14.3 million bonus.
Bob Chapek, 61, seen in June 2021, during the Avengers Campus opening ceremony inside Disney California Adventure
Chapek was initially unwilling to speak out against the so-called “Don’t Say Guy” bill—something that Egger rebuked him for.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill, which Joe Biden has called “abominable” but said its supporters protect children, into law in April.
On March 7, Chapek finally issued a memo telling employees that Disney did not release an urgent statement because they are “too often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame.”
He later apologized for the company’s handling of the bill, saying Disney would halt all political donations in the state and increase support for advocacy groups working to combat similar legislation in other states.
Disney employees staged a series of strikes to protest Chapek’s failure to be more forthright on the issue.
Meanwhile, Iger tweeted his criticism of the new legislation. He told CNN+ that he thinks it’s an obvious case.
“A lot of these issues are not necessarily political,” Egger said. “It’s about right and wrong.”
Bob Iger appeared on CNN criticizing his successor as CEO of Disney and his handling of the controversy over the “Don’t Say Jay” bill, insisting the issue was “about right and wrong.”
Egger (right) with his successor Bob Chapek (left), who took over in February 2021
Journalist Chris Wallace asked Iger if he felt a “vanilla” company like Disney, which is not known to be impulsive or political, should weigh in on controversial social issues.
What is the Parental Rights in Education Act?
HB 1557 was introduced by two Republican members of the Florida Legislature – Rep. Joe Harding and Senator Dennis Baxley.
They say the bill’s goal is to “empower parents” in their children’s education, and to make teachers aware of the difference between “instruction” and “discussion”.
“What we forbid is pointing them in a specific direction,” Baxley said of the way teachers lead students in the classroom.
Students can talk about whatever they want to bring up, but sometimes the correct answer is, “You really should talk to your parents about that.”
The law applies to children in kindergarten through third grade.
It states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties regarding sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur.”
It also requires districts to “adopt procedures for notifying a student’s parent if there has been a change in student services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being,” something LGBTQ advocates argue could lead to students being discharged to their parents without The student’s knowledge or consent.
It passed March 8 by a vote of 22 to 17. The House of Representatives approved the bill in late February. DeSantis signed it into law March 28 and it will go into effect July 1.
“I had to deal with this a lot,” Egger said.
And the filter that you used to determine whether or not we should take into account a few factors: what impact it has on our employees, our shareholders, and our customers.
“And if any of those three groups have a deep interest in, or will be affected by, whatever issue is at hand, that’s something I thought we should consider.”
Egger added that when dealing with right and wrong, or with something that “has a profound impact on your work”, he believes one should do “what is right and not worry about a possible backlash”.
“One of the things that CEOs accept as a responsibility is that they will have to consider issues, even if expressing an opinion on those issues has the potential to put some of your business at risk,” he said.
On February 8, Biden spoke out against the bill, tweeting: “I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially children who will be affected by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are.
“I have your back, and my administration will continue to fight for the protection and safety you deserve.”
Several weeks later, on February 24, Iger tweeted: “I’m with the Chief on this!” If passed, this bill would put LGBTQ youth at risk.
He told Wallace he spoke out because he felt the bill was “potentially harmful to children”.
“I felt it and tweeted an opinion about the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida,” Iger said.
For me, it wasn’t politics, but what was right and wrong, and that just seemed wrong.
It appears likely to be harmful to children.
And it seemed as if she was going to do exactly what she shouldn’t be doing.
This is to promote empathy, understanding, and acceptance, and to enable young children who may be gay to feel more confident, more comfortable, and a greater part of the community, if they can be discussed freely, rather than kept in the closet.
One suggestion for how Iger can repair the financial damage caused by Chapek is to turn the television networks ESPN and ABC into their own companies, allowing them to focus on their own content and theme parks.
Disney has owned ABC since 1995 and ESPN since 1996.
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