Disney CEO Bob Iger says company will ‘quiet the noise’ of culture war controversy – as it remains in legal battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis after wading into ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law
- Disney CEO Bob Iger shared that the company will move away from culture issues
- The company filed an amended free speech lawsuit against DeSantis
Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that the company will “quiet the noise” around cultural issues as it has proven to be bad for business – as the company is still embroiled in a legal feud with Ron DeSantis.
Iger’s comments at an investor meeting are the latest update in the ongoing saga between Disney and DeSantis after the company protested Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans sex and gender curricula for public school students.
Disney had threatened to withdraw its $17 billion investment in the Sunshine State unless DeSantis stopped his political attacks on the company.
But a recent SEC filing shows they will spend $60 million on their parks and cruise lines over the next decade — and Walt Disney World in Orlando is expected to lead the investment.
A report from Needham investment analyst Laura Martin on the investor meeting found that Iger wants to create content that is entertaining and not issue-focused – after The House of Mouse faced backlash over pushing a “woke agenda.”
At an investor meeting, Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company will “quiet the noise around culture issues” and focus on creating content that is entertaining.
Disney remains locked in a legal battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis after he called the company “woke” over criticism of his so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill
DeSantis retaliated against the company’s revocation of the special tax district for The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida
After Disney criticized the “Don’t Say Gay” law, the governor fired back at the company, accusing them of being “woke,” which they said was a violation of the First Amendment.
DeSantis targeted Disney’s special tax district, replacing its board with his allies and leading the charge to change the name from the Reedy District to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
Before DeSantis’ chosen board took control, Disney created a development contract for future investments. These were thrown out by the new administration, leading to a federal lawsuit.
Earlier this month, Disney dropped much of its federal lawsuit against Florida’s governor.
They asked a federal judge for permission to file an amended complaint, focusing solely on the First Amendment claim, which was approved.
Iger’s comments about focusing on entertainment rather than “issues” come after a spate of recent box office successes.
These included the live-action version of The Little Mermaid, Guardians of the Galaxy, Strange World and Lightyear.
The Little Mermaid sparked controversy over the casting of black actress Halle Bailey as the title character, Ariel.
Lightyear, released a year ago on a reported budget of $200 million, grossed a modest $226.7 million in worldwide ticket sales.
The film could not be screened in fourteen countries in the Middle East and Asia due to its depiction of a same-sex relationship.
Disney’s theme parks and cruise lines have proven to be a stable source of revenue for the company while suffering losses at the box office
The film Lightyear was banned in 14 countries for featuring a same-sex couple
As the company faced losses from its Disney+ streaming business, which isn’t expected to become profitable until next year, it turned to the parks business to soften the blow.
Despite some of the company’s most famous attractions in Florida, it appears the company won’t be leaving anytime soon despite the political dispute.
Paul Verna, an analyst at Insider Intelligence, told Reuters: “The political risks of doing business in Florida will not deter Disney from continuing to invest in the most lucrative U.S. destination.”
And Dennis Speigel, CEO and founder of International Theme Park Services, told us Orlando Sentinel: “Like it or not, it’s a market battle (in Central Florida) with Universal, and Disney has always occupied the throne. And I don’t think they’re going to hand that over.’