Bob Chapek, the new Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, made a strong impression at the company’s annual shareholders meetings when he shut down an audience member’s claim that LGBTQ+ content in Disney films, television series, and other media is hurting Disney’s bottom line. Per New York Times reporter Brooks Barnes, a shareholder “complained about LGBT themes in Disney content and says stock price is down 20% as a result.” Chapek refuted the claim, saying drop in stock price “might have more to do with coronavirus and the worldwide pandemic that we’re facing.”
Disney properties such as “Star Wars” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe have made headlines in recent months for including LGBTQ+ content. The most recent “Star Wars” release, “The Rise of Skywalker,” included the franchise’s first same-sex kiss on screen. The new Pixar release “Onward” includes an openly gay character in one scene, while Marvel president Kevin Feige has been vocal about the upcoming tentpole “The Eternals” featuring the franchise’s first openly gay superhero. The Disney+ series based on the gay coming-of-age film “Love Simon” recently set up shop at Hulu and has plans for a second season.
Chapek took over the role of Disney CEO from Bob Iger in late February. Iger oversaw the acquisition of major companies such as Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel during his tenure as Disney CEO and he’s staying with the company as executive chairman through the end of his contract, which expires December 31, 2021. Iger also attended the shareholders meeting and was asked to address whether or not the controversial animated film “Song of the South” would ever be be available to stream on Disney+. Iger says the film is “not appropriate in today’s world” and will not be released.
As for Chapek, the new CEO faces a more uncertain future at Disney as the company has to continue to grow its streaming platform and continue to streamline the effects of the Fox merger. Chapek is a 27-year veteran of The Walt Disney Company and previously served as chairman of Disney parks, experiences, and products.
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