Disney shocked the business world in November when it announced Bob Iger would return as CEO. Iger came back to replace Bob Chapek. And while many celebrated Iger’s return, things may look a little different after Iger’s first investor earnings call. In the 2023 earnings call for Q1 on Wednesday, the CEO shared news about upcoming mass layoffs. The Disney company will be letting go of 7,000 employees. Iger also announced, in a move that does not come close to offsetting that terrible news, sequels for three animated Disney franchises: Frozen, Toy Story, and Zootopia. The CEO mentioned an Avatar experience for Disneyland as well. We first saw this news at Variety.
The brutal layoffs come as a result of restructuring that will split the company into three divisions: Disney Entertainment; Parks, Experiences, and Products; and ESPN. Iger said on the call that the “structure is aimed at returning greater authority to our creative leaders and making them accountable for how their content performs financially.”
As for the new animated movies, Iger didn’t share details beyond the Disney sequels being in the works. Another Frozen sequel will bring the total number of feature-length Frozen stories to three. Meanwhile, Toy Story already has four installments. Zootopia received a series, but this would be its first sequel. A few actors such as the voice of Buzz Lightyear, Tim Allen, and the voice of Frozen‘s Olaf, Josh Gad, reacted to the news on Twitter. However, it remains unclear whether this counts as a confirmation of their characters’ continuing presence in the Disney sequels.
We also don’t have details about the Avatar experience for Disneyland. Iger promised them “very soon.” The park doesn’t have room for the full-blown Avatar-themed area that Walt Disney World has in Animal Kingdom. It’s more likely the experience would be part of the DisneylandForward expansion announced in early 2021.
More details to come as we learn them.
Originally published on February 8, 2023.