In a wide-ranging interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on July 13, a day after signing a 2026 extension to his contract as Disney CEO, Bob Iger spoke on a number of issues while attending the Allen & Co. Sun Valley Conference: The streaming market’s continuing lack of profitability, the future of ESPN, his company’s lawsuit against Ron DeSantis, and whether departures from Pixar, like John Lasseter, may have impacted quality and appeal at the box office of their films.
But the bite that might garner the most attention are his comments on writers’ and actors’ strikes, comments that stand in stark contrast to the demands of their respective guilds. The CEO even suggested that the unions are threatening the film and television industry’s long-term post-COVID recovery.
“It’s very disturbing to me,” Iger said of the WGA that has been on strike for over two months and SAG-AFTRA about to go on strike. “We talked about disruptive forces in this business and all the challenges that we’re facing, the recovery from COVID, that’s ongoing. He hasn’t quite returned. This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption. I understand the desire of any union organization to work on behalf of its members to achieve maximum compensation and be compensated fairly for the value they provide. We were able, as an industry, to negotiate a great deal with the Directors Guild that reflects the value that filmmakers contribute to this great business. We wanted to do the same thing with the writers and we’d like to do the same thing with the actors. There’s a level of expectation that they have that’s not realistic. And they’re adding to the set of challenges this company is already facing that is, quite frankly, very disruptive.”
When interviewer David Faber asked for clarification on why exactly the writers and actors “aren’t realistic,” Iger said, “I can’t answer that question.”
“Once again, I respect their right and their desire to get as much compensation as possible for their people,” Iger added. “I respect that completely. I’ve been around long enough to understand that dynamic and appreciate it. But you also need to be realistic about the business environment and what this business can offer. It is and has been a great deal for all these people and will continue to be even in difficult times. But being realistic is imperative here.
“It’s going to have a very, very damaging effect on the entire business, and unfortunately, there’s huge collateral damage in the industry for people who are support services, and I could go on and on. It will affect the economy of several regions, also due to the size of the business. It’s a shame, it’s really a shame.”