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The legacy of Bob Iger

by Mason Kupiainen One of the most powerful people—if not the most powerful person—in the entertainment industry is Bob Iger. Ever since he became CEO of Disney in 2005, he’s helped bring the company out of what many consider to be the “Second Dark Age”during which many of Disney’s films were failures—and turn them into the dominating studio they are today. He’s been the man who pushed Disney into buying additional assets and helped them become the highest-grossing studio of 2019. Iger has been an important figure for not only Disney but all of entertainment. When the news broke that Iger was stepping down and handing over his position to Bob Chapek, many people became concerned with how Disney would continue without Iger. With this in mind, let's take a look at some of the things Iger has done for the company and the legacy he’ll leave in the entertainment industry. 

Lucasfilm and Marvel

One of Iger’s biggest additions was the purchase of Lucasfilm and Marvel. Both of these acquisitions helped push Disney to the level of success they are at today. Last year, Disney brought in $11 billion and much of that came from the Marvel films and The Rise of Skywalker. With the addition of these studios, Disney was also able to claim six of the top ten highest-grossing films of all time.  Besides using these properties for making films, Disney has been able to use them in merchandising and to expand their theme parks. Both Marvel and Star Wars have theme park attractions and have helped gain more attraction to the parks. They have even been part of the reason why Disney has been raising the prices for their parks over the last few years. Disney Plus has also been greatly affected, with The Mandalorian being their highly anticipated property on the service, as well as Marvel also being set to drop their own shows later this year. If it wasn’t for Iger’s lead to acquire these properties, then Disney wouldn’t have been able to expand their film, television, merchandise, and park divisions to the size they are currently. 


Another great addition to Disney has been the purchase of Pixar. Before Disney bought Pixar, they were a highly regarded studio with respectable films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo. When Iger led the purchase, Pixar didn’t see many changes, but Disney’s animation was greatly affected. Simply looking at the two studio’s films over the last few years, you see many similarities in the style of animation. Films like Frozen, Wreck it Ralph, Zootopia, and Big Hero 6 have taken inspiration from Pixar’s animation style. Besides similarities in animation styles, the process of how their movies were made also shows Pixar's influence. Pixar will take concepts that sound good but don’t have a great story, and rework them until they are successes; for example, Up was originally about two princes who lived in a floating alien city, until it was reworked into the film we received. This philosophy was then adopted by Disney, which later helped them have smash hits with films like Tangled and Frozen. 


A monumental moment in entertainment history was the merging of 20th Century Fox and Disney. This merger provided many benefits to Disney, but the major reason why Disney purchased Fox was to have a library of content for their streaming service. In an interview, Iger admitted that having Fox’s library of movies and television shows, like The Simpsons, will help them to have a wide expanse of titles on their streaming service. Iger also mentioned how Disney has plans for some of Fox’s family films to have reboots, like “Home Alone,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “Night at the Museum,” and “Cheaper by the Dozen.” All of these titles, however, will not make it to theaters; rather, they will be used as originals—either movies or shows—for Disney Plus. There are some Fox movies in the works for theatrical films—like the long-awaited Avatar sequels supposedly still in the pipeline—and Planet of the Apes movies. 

Disney Plus

Speaking of Disney Plus, the creation of their own original streaming service was a major landmark for Disney. Iger was the leading man behind the development of the streaming service, and pushed for Disney to acquire Fox in order to have a vast library of content for their service.  Being able to have all of their content in one place and not licenced out to other competitors, like Netflix, is a major change in the streaming wars. There are plenty of other streaming services still to come, like HBO Max and Peacock, but Disney Plus is really the first major streaming service created by a studio. Being able to have all of Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, National Geographic, and some of Fox’s libraries in one place is huge for fans of any of those properties.  Disney Plus also has continued to bring about the end of Blu Rays and DVDs. When the streaming services were announced, the public was also told that Disney would end their vault, which was essentially the first step in killing physical media. There are still a great many people who purchase DVDs and Blu Rays, but with physical media gone, people will be forced to subscribe to Disney Plus if they want access to Disney’s library. As of yet, we don’t know how Iger’s departure from being the leading man of Disney will affect the company as a whole. He’s been one of their most important leaders and has helped shepherd the company into becoming so successful. Wherever Bob Chapek takes Disney in the near future, it’s certain that the state Bob Iger left the company in will help them continue to be successful. 
Sources: The Odyssey, Variety, Box Office Mojo, Miami Herald, CBC, Den of Geek, Cinemablend, The WrapFeatured Image: Tt Shinkan