Disney boss Bob Iger is stepping down from his role as chief executive with the studio.
Disney has said that it has appointed Bob Chapek – the man previously responsible for the company’s parks and products division – to replace the longstanding Iger.
Having led Disney through several blockbuster acquisitions and the launch of the streaming network, Disney+, Iger will remain Disney’s executive chairman until the end of next year in order to direct ‘creative endeavours.’
The move from Iger – considered by many to be the most powerful man in Hollywood – has come as a surprise announcement. Iger has made a big success of his tenure with Disney, having held the role as chief executive since 2005. He has previously announced his plans to retire, only to push back his departure date.
In a statement on Tuesday, Iger said it was the “optimal time” to begin to hand control of the company to a new leader. Disney has recently completed the acquisition of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox entertainment empire and launched its Disney+ streaming channel late last year.
Iger had also presided over the firm’s acquisition of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.
“The company has gotten larger and more complex just in the recent 12 months,” Iger said on a conference call on Tuesday.
“I felt that with the asset bases in place and with our strategy deployed I should be spending as much time as possible on the creative side of our business.”
Meanwhile, Chapek, who joined Disney in 1993, will be the firm’s seventh chief executive since it was formed in the 1920s. In his prior role, among other achievements, he oversaw the opening of Disney’s park in Shanghai.
“His tremendous understanding of the breadth and depth of the Company and appreciation for the special connection between Disney and its consumers makes him the perfect choice,” said Disney board member Susan Arnold.
Disney claimed seven of the top 10 box office hits globally last year and the new streaming channel has already attracted more than 28 million paying customers.
The firm’s market value has increased five-fold during his tenure, Arnold said. The firm is now worth about $230bn.