The vote, which was narrow but marked a reversal of last year’s rebuke by shareholders, punctuated the 90-minute meeting, which was held in St. Louis but live-streamed on the company’s website. Earlier this week, Disney disclosed in an SEC filing that it had lowered Iger’s total pay package by $13.5 million, though he remains one of the best-paid executives in media. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers) is among the major shareholders opposed to even the updated pay plan.
In a more decisive vote, an estimated 94% of shareholders approved the re-election of Susan Arnold, Mary Barra, Safra Catz, Francis deSouza, Michael Froman, Iger, Maria Elena Lagomasino and Mark Parker to the company’s board of directors. New director Derica Rice’s election was also OK’d in that same vote.
Beyond executive pay and management, the meeting also offered a few newsy morsels about Disney’s streaming plans, theme parks, upcoming film slate and business outlook.
The long-anticipated, $71.3 billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox will close “soon,” per Iger. Reports today have indicated that regulators in Mexico will vote Monday on the deal, which is understood to be the final obstacle to its completion. After spending most of 2018 planning for the combination of the operations, Iger said, “We’ll hit the ground running as soon as the deal closes.”
Disney+, the company’s forthcoming subscription service, factored a bit into Iger’s remarks and then prominently in the 35-minute Q&A portion that closed the meeting.
After announcing that all 2019 film releases, beginning with this weekend’s Captain Marvel, would be available exclusively on Disney+, Iger also said the “entire Walt Disney motion picture library” would be on the platform. He didn’t rattle off titles, but emphasized that “the pictures that were in the vault will be on the service,” in addition to original titles.
Noting the multiple questions about streaming, Iger remarked, “Glad there’s a lot of interest in it, by the way. Bodes well.” When one inquisitor ended her time at the microphone by joking that she was looking forward to adding “another subscription service” to her personal roster, Iger gamely replied, “We’ll try to make it easy for you to do that.” Disney has not announced any pricing or a firm release date as yet for Disney+, but reports have indicated it will fall in the $6-to-$8-per-month range.
Iger emphasized the Fox deal at the close of the “entertainment” portion of the meeting, ending with a reel covering all of the Fox film and TV assets the company is about to add. New footage of production on future Avatar projects was also unveiled, with the next feature installment slated for December 2020.
Asked by one shareholder about how Disney will maintain a certain quality level in its motion picture efforts once they expand with the Fox merger, Iger reflected on his experience attending the Oscars. The combined post-merger company accounted for 37 nominations, he said. Counting Black Panther, The Favourite, Free Solo and Bohemian Rhapsody, “we won a bunch,” Iger said. “I left there feeling extremely proud of the creativity of the company today and the company that is to come. We have an opportunity to raise the bar even higher.”