Shocking news out of Disney: After finally retiring from the company at the end of 2021, Bob Iger — who previously served as Disney CEO from 2005 to 2020 — has been brought back to lead the company, replacing his own successor, Bob Chapek.

According to the press release from Disney, Iger is back at his job “effective immediately.” (The release states only that Chapek “has stepped down from his position.” He had signed a contract extension that was supposed to keep him in his position as Disney CEO for three more years earlier this summer.)

The release from Disney Chairman of the Board Susan Arnold states...

We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic ... The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.

Iger announced his retirement in early 2020, and named Chapek, who was then the head of Disney’s theme park division, as his successor. Not long after Chapek took over, though, the pandemic struck, shuttering many of Disney’s parks for months and months. Chapek’s tenure as Disney CEO has been marked by several challenges and controversies, including the company’s handling of Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and the fight over the release of Marvel’s Black Widow direct to Disney+, which prompted a lawsuit from its star, Scarlett Johansson. (The suit was eventually settled.)

Iger’s own statement on his return to Disney read:

I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO ... Disney and its incomparable brands and franchises hold a special place in the hearts of so many people around the globe—most especially in the hearts of our employees, whose dedication to this company and its mission is an inspiration.

Iger’s return to the company is at least planned as one with a distinct end point; the announcement says he has agreed to serve as CEO for “two years, with a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term.” Of course, he retired once, and now here he is back at the helm of Disney.

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