Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors the company will “calm the noise” in a culture war pitting social conservatives against the global media and entertainment conglomerate, according to an analyst note Wednesday.
Iger’s brief statement, contained in an analyst report by Needham media analyst Laura Martin, was part of an investor presentation Tuesday at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, where the CEO also announced that Disney will double its investment in theme parks and cruise ships next decade.
Disney has endured a fierce battle playing out in Florida and at the box office, where it faced backlash on social media over the casting of Halle Bailey, a Black actress, in the lead role of Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.”
Several countries last year blocked the release of Pixar Animation Studios’ film “Lightyear,” in which a same-sex couple shares a brief kiss.
The entertainment company found itself at the center of the country’s culture wars in 2022 when it publicly criticized Florida legislation that restricted discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms.
Gov. Ron DeSantis responded with a campaign against “woke Disney” and worked with the state legislature to strip him of self-governing authority over the parks.
Florida and Disney are in a legal battle over the formation of the Central Florida Oversight District Board, which will oversee the development of the nearly 25,000-acre property in and around Disney’s theme parks.
It’s unclear how much of the $60 billion in new investments will be spent on parks in Florida, where Disney faces increasing competition from rivals such as Universal Orlando Resort.
Iger previously said the company plans to invest $17 billion in Walt Disney World over the next decade.
Iger’s comments on the content appear to match those he made at the company’s annual meeting in April.
At the time, Iger responded to an investor who said Disney had evolved from a “place of magic for children” to an “ideological company serving the LGBTQ community” that promoted a “woke agenda.”
“Our primary mission must be to entertain … and have a positive impact on the world,” Iger said at the time. “I am very serious. It shouldn’t be driven by the agenda.”
In Orlando, Iger also told the investor group that Marvel Entertainment would slow the pace of its releases after making too many films and television series, according to Needham’s report.
Pixar’s young directors will work with existing characters and stories rather than developing original stories like “Elemental.”
“Elemental” initially struggled at the box office, grossing a paltry $30 million in its opening weekend.
According to BoxOfficeMojo, the film ultimately grossed $486.7 million.
Disney could not immediately be reached for comment.