Bob Iger: Disney’s Making Long Plans For ‘Star Wars,’ But He’s “Serious” About Leaving In 2019

Bob Iger Disney
Associated Press

Disney CEO Bob Iger served up news nuggets about Star Wars, and himself, in an event today at the University of Southern California.

On Star Wars, he says that “we’re not changing” the next film — The Last Jedi, due December 15 —  to deal with the passing of Carrie Fisher. “Her performance, which we’re really pleased with, remains as it was.” Disney also won’t insert a digital version of her.

After that the company plans for next year a stand-alone origin story for Han Solo in his late teens to early 20s. It will show him “acquiring a certain vehicle and meeting a certain Wookie…You’ll also discover how he got his name.”

The company is “starting to talk” about Episode 9 of the saga and has a creative team “thinking about another decade and a half of Star Wars stories.”

As for his own plans, Iger says that he’s “serious this time around…I promise” about leaving the CEO gig in mid-2019. He added that the company decided to extend his contract by a year because “we could use more time to create a better transition” noting that “succession is a complicated thing.”

Disney has yet to designate an heir apparent following the announcement early last year of then-COO Tom Staggs’ departure.

“I’ve done this job for almost 12” years, he added. “Staying too long makes it harder” to avoid distractions, including speaking engagements and awards.

“You start believing your own convictions” and can become “dismissive of other people’s ideas and convictions.” He’d rather leave while he’s “at the top of my game.”

As for life after Disney, Iger — who’s been rumored to be mulling a presidential run — said “I’m not thinking much about it…There’s a whole world to enjoy.”

He’d better be telling the truth: He was being quizzed by his wife, Willow Bay — who was just named the dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism — at a tech conference the school ran with USC Marshall’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Asked about the industry’s growing investments in blockbusters, Iger told the gathering that “people gravitate to what they believe to be popular…Technology is enabling even more of that.”

For example, he noted that the new live action version of Beauty and the Beast, which generated $400M at worldwide box offices in four days, partly benefited from “the power of the global recommendation engine.”

Iger says he just joined Twitter because “it’s been effective for a certain president” and thought it could help him communicate with employees and consumers. Bay joked that pre-dawn tweets “will not be happening.”

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