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The Captain's Log

The Captain's Log

The Student News Site of Christopher Newport University

The Captain's Log

The Captain's Log

A failed attempt at Disney’s board

Why I am glad that they didn’t succeed
Disney opening credits, photo from Marc Levin on Flickr

I’m all for not caring about what a bunch of rich people want to quarrel about, but this time when The Walt Disney Company had their elections for their board of directors, it was worth watching. 


This year these elections turned into a proxy fight with Disney being led by their recently brought back CEO Bob Iger vs Nelson Peltz a billionaire investor and his firm Trian Partners, along with the former ousted CEO of Marvel Entertainment, Ike Perlmutter. Trian Partners was attempting to get Peltz and another former Disney employee, former chief financial officer Jay Rasulo, seats on Disney’s board. 


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Leading up to this proxy fight, the Marvel movies and universe that are so vastly popular and well-known today almost didn’t come to fruition under Perlmutter’s leadership. Perlmutter put up roadblocks in an attempt to prevent movies like Captain Marvel and Black Panther from being made, which Iger overruled. 


“We had a chance to make a great movie and to showcase an underrepresented segment of America, and those goals were not mutually exclusive,” Iger wrote in his memoir, according to Variety.  “I called Ike [Perlmutter] and told him to tell his team to stop putting up roadblocks and ordered that we put both ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Captain Marvel’ into production.”


Peltz, Perlmutter’s partner in the attempted disruption of the Disney Board, doubled down on Perlmutter’s strategy and complained about Disney’s supposed “wokeness.”


“Why do I have to have a Marvel [movie] that’s all women? Not that I have anything against women, but why do I have to do that? Why can’t I have Marvels that are both? Why do I need an all-Black cast?” Peltz said in a recent interview with the Financial Times.


There are a lot of things wrong with most of what Peltz and Perlmutter are preaching about with regards to the supposed “wokeness” of Disney. First off, neither movie featured an all-one type of cast. Black Panther had Martin Freeman, a white man play a significantly big supporting role in the movie. Whereas Captain Marvel featured Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, and Ben Mendelsohn all playing a significant role.


Also, their unwillingness to take a risk on a movie that for once didn’t seem to be led by a white male, was a little concerning. Did they think it would be unpopular, a flop at the box office, or did they simply not want to take a chance on the movie? 


Ultimately, could Peltz and Rasulo actually have affected anything if they had secured seats on the Disney Board? Honestly, probably not, they would have still made life annoying for Iger and Disney, but they wouldn’t hold much power or sway. 


However, Disney is still the top dog when it comes to the entertainment business. If Peltz and Perlmutter could have gained control and made it harder for Disney to make movies that feature diversity of any kind, which they perceived as unprofitable, then what is to stop the rest of the entertainment business from following?


I think that if Disney is unwilling to take risks with its movies and push past any preconceived notions, no other entertainment business will. I believe that when it comes to making movies, you need to take risks on everything – from the story, to who you cast, to who directs it. Cast someone unconventional for a role and greenlight a story that may be a little weird. At the end of the day, people want something original, not the same story retold over and over again.


Ultimately, this is why I am glad Peltz and Perlmutter didn’t succeed in gaining seats on the board, not because I don’t think they are anti-diversity, but because they are anti-risk, anti-something new, anti-something they don’t think will work, and are unwilling to give things a chance.


But hey, according to an interview with CNBC, Peltz claims to have made close to a billion dollars from his investment in Disney during their whole proxy fight.

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