Disney CEO Bob Iger Shares Confidence for Strong Future at Disney Annual Shareholder Meeting

Disney CEO Bob Iger shared that he has a sense of “renewed strength” during Disney’s annual shareholder meeting after Disney’s slate of nominees were elected to the Board of Directors. He also thanked shareholders for their “trust and confidence” in Disney with their votes.

Shortly after the meeting, Disney shared that it appeared that Disney’s slate of 12 directors had been elected to the board by a substantial margin. This came after a bruising proxy fight with Nelson Peltz and his Trian Group and a much more subdued one with Blackwells Capital. The final voting tallies are subject to certification by the company’s independent inspector of elections. However, the final results will be included in Disney’s report that will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“I just want to take a moment to thank our shareholders for your trust and confidence in the Disney Board and management and the ambitious strategy we are implementing across our businesses to build for the future,” Iger told shareholders. “Now that this distracting proxy contest is behind us, we’re eager to focus 100% of our attention on our most important priorities: growth and value creation for our shareholders and creative excellence for our consumers.”

Building Growth on Top of Creativity

The last year was spent on getting Disney refocused on being a company that prioritizes creativity and storytelling, Iger said during the meeting. Because of this foundational effort that was put forth, the company is now in a period of growth. “As we gather today, we stand on a far more solid foundation, which has been fortified by our ambitious course of action over the past year. We are once again building our businesses for growth. And as we demonstrated during our most recent earnings report, we have turned the corner and entered a new, positive era for The Walt Disney Company.”

“Our plans are ambitious, our strategy is working, and our future is bright,” Iger said in a video message shot at Disneyland with Sleeping Beaty Castle behind him.

Iger shared four main priorities that Disney is focused on as it grows and builds:

  • Reinvigorating creativity at Disney’s film studios;
  • Achieving sustained profitability in streaming;
  • Positioning ESPN for the future and turning it into the preeminent digital sports platform;
  • Turbocharging growth in the company’s Experiences business, including domestic and international Parks and the Disney Cruise Line.

“We are executing at a rapid pace, and we are doing so from a position of renewed strength with tremendous optimism,” Iger added.

Stories From the Studios

Solid stories are a central component for The Walt Disney Company moving forward. Iger highlighted that there is a strong slate of films being released from the different studios that are a part of Disney this year. This comes as the company comes off a strong awards season with Disney leading the industry with 20 Oscar nominations and coming away with five wins. Disney also received 27 Golden Globe nominations and then won top prizes for Poor Things and FX’s The Bear. For the Primetime Emmy Awards, Disney took home 37 wins, more than any other entertainment company.

Looking forward, Disney has “incredibly robust slate of upcoming theatrical releases,” Iger noted. This includes Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes in May, Deadpool & Wolverine in July, Alien: Romulus in August, and Mufasa: The Lion King in December. Inside Out 2 is also being released on June 14th and Moana 2 will be arriving in theaters in November. Iger shared an image from this sequel as well.

Iger also described the movie. “Three years since her first voyage, Moana is heading out on an epic journey to find and reconnect the people of the ocean. We can’t wait to take audiences on another amazing journey with Moana and Maui, and we are excited to confirm that both Auli‘i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson are back reprising their roles.”

Moana 2
Moana 2

“Moana remains an incredibly popular franchise,” Iger added. “The original film from 2016 recently crossed 1 billion hours streamed on Disney+ and was the most streamed movie of 2023 on any platform in the U.S.”

Strength in Streaming

Iger spent some time talking about the strength Disney has in its streaming services. Disney+ continues to be expected to be profitable before the end of this fiscal year, Iger said. One of the reasons for this is because of the strength of the library for Disney’s streaming service. Moana is just one example of this. Iger shared how it is just “one of the many successful titles in our rich library of movies and shows on Disney+, a library that just got a lot bigger with the official launch of Hulu on Disney+ last week.”

“With our expansive collection of enduring classics and new hits available together in one place, Disney+ truly has something for everyone,” he said.

ESPN is also adding to the strength of Disney’s streaming services. Iger shared that it “continues to deliver meaningfully for the company.”

“We believe in the power of sports and their unique ability to convene and engage audiences,” Iger said. “And we are hard at work building ESPN into the preeminent digital sports destination to reach even more fans in innovative new ways.”

Iger noted that one way this is being done is through a joint venture that will be available to the public later this year. This will include sports coverage from Disney, Fox, and Warner Brothers Discovery to create a comprehensive destination for sports fans to watch and experience different things from multiple different sports. Iger said that, “This new service will provide consumers more of the sports they want in a single place, including content from all the major professional sports leagues and college sports.”

Another ESPN offering on the horizon is the stand-alone ESPN streaming service. This will arrive in in the fall of 2025. “We will make the full suite of ESPN’s channels available as a stand-alone and highly interactive digital destination,” Iger said. “This will give consumers the ability to stream their favorite live games and studio programming, and take advantage of an immersive, customizable sports experience that includes betting, fantasy sports, e-commerce, and more.”

Iger shared that Disney’s direct-to-consumer services are “a clear differentiator for the company in a very competitive landscape.” This applies to both current and future offerings. “We remain poised to reach profitability in our combined streaming business by the end of this fiscal year, and deliver significant, sustained growth in the future,” he added. “We have the most valuable brands and franchises, a deep library of popular titles built over the past 100 years, powerful content engines, multiple consumer touchpoints, and the best advertiser technology in the streaming business globally. No one has the breadth of what Disney has when it comes to streaming.”

Turbocharged Experiences

For many Disney fans, the focus on this year’s annual meeting was very much on Disney’s Experiences segment. Fans and shareholders alike are eagerly awaiting news for what the future holds in Disney’s parks, cruises, and beyond. Iger pointed out that this segment is another differentiator for Disney. We’re constantly seeking creative new ways to turn our IP into top quality experiences,” he said. That includes Disney’s recently announced partnership with Epic Games.

“Younger audiences in particular are huge consumers of video games, and this new universe will give players the opportunity to forge even greater connections with Disney,” Iger said.

Disney’s parks and resorts were also acknowledged by Iger. He shared that Disney continues to deliver experiences like no other for guests around the world. This is being done while generating “enormous growth for the company.”

There has been a lot of expansions and additions for Disney parks and resorts recently. These have proven to be quite popular. This includes the World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland, which opened in November (a Frozen themed land is coming to Disneyland Paris, Iger announced), and Zootopia at Shanghai Disney Resort, which opened in December. Fantasy Springs is set to open at Tokyo DisneySea in June.

“With such a deep well of untapped IP and buildable land, there are so many experiences that have yet to be brought to our Parks around the world, and we plan to turbocharge growth in this sector with a robust amount of strategic investment,” he said.

The presentation then turned to Anaheim, California and the DisneylandForward proposal. Iger noted that later this month the Anaheim City Council will be taking up this proposal. He also used the opportunity to share concept art for a future Avatar adventures. “We’re thrilled about many potential new stories that our guests could experience at Walt’s original theme park, including the opportunity to embark on all-new Avatar adventures with a visit to the world of Pandora,” Iger said. “Our Imagineers have been hard at work dreaming up what guests might expect.”

Disney as a Responsible Citizen

After discussing the future possibilities for the Disneyland Resort, Iger then pivoted to talk about Disney’s being a responsible citizen to the world. He did this by referencing Walt Disney himself and sharing that Walt “understood the power storytelling has to connect us all to one another.”

“And our company, like our storytelling, has always been a force for good in the world,” Iger said. “That’s why Disney is dedicated to conducting our businesses with clarity of purpose and a deep sense of integrity, as we strive to have a positive impact in the communities in which we operate.”

This is done, Iger said, through multiple different efforts. Disney supports multiple children’s hospitals around the world. There is also the Disney’s Heroes Work Here initiative. This has led to the hiring of more than 13,000 veterans since 2012 by Disney. He also recognized Disney Aspire, which covers tuition for eligible hourly and part-time Disney employees looking to pursue higher education. Make-A-Wish, and the partnership Disney has with this organization, was also recognized. Disney is the number 1 wish granter in the world. It has helped grant over 150,000 wishes. “All of this ongoing work is part of our overarching commitment to being a responsible citizen of the world,” Iger noted.

A True Privilege

Bob Iger wrapped up his remarks with words of thanks for Disney’s cast members and employees around the world. He shared that “it is a true privilege to lead this remarkable company at this pivotal moment.”

“I’ve often said that one of the greatest attributes of Disney is the mere fact that people expect so much from us. ‘What will they think of next,’ you might hear someone say, or ‘Only Disney can do that,’” he said. He went on to say, “we welcome that challenge, because it motivates us and energizes us to always be bold in everything that we do, and to exceed your highest expectations.”

What do you think of the news that came out of the 2024 Disney Annual Shareholder Meeting? What are you most excited about in terms of Disney’s future? What was the highlight of this meeting for you today? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!