Disney Criticizes Peltz’s Remarks on the Need for an All-Black Cast

Walt Disney Co. asserted on Friday that comments made by activist investor Nelson Peltz, critiquing the company’s focus on movies featuring female and Black actors, underscore why he is unfit for Disney’s board.

Peltz, embroiled in a contentious battle to secure a directorship at Disney, aired his views in an interview with the Financial Times, expressing concern that Disney’s recent films prioritize delivering a social message over compelling storytelling.

Specifically citing “The Marvels” and “Black Panther,” Peltz lamented what he perceived as an overemphasis on diversity.

Disney Criticizes Peltz's Remarks on the Need for an All-Black Cast
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“Why do I have to have a Marvel that’s all women? Not that I have anything against women, but why do I have to do that?” Peltz questioned in the interview, published on Friday. “Why can’t I have Marvels that are both? Why do I need an all-Black cast?”

In response to Peltz’s critique, a Disney spokesperson retorted, “This is exactly why Nelson Peltz shouldn’t be anywhere near a creatively driven company.”

The battle led by Peltz and his Trian Fund pits a prominent activist investor, known for his collaborative approach with target companies, against Disney’s Bob Iger, a seasoned CEO in the media industry who resumed the company’s top position in November 2022, aiming to revitalize Disney.

In his autobiography, “The Ride of a Lifetime,” Iger revealed his efforts to diversify the Marvel films, originally centered on white male characters. “Black Panther,” the sixth highest-grossing domestic release of all time according to Box Office Mojo, marked a significant milestone as the first Marvel film nominated for Best Picture.

Meanwhile, “The Marvels,” released last year, garnered a more modest $206 million worldwide.

Disney Criticizes Peltz's Remarks on the Need for an All-Black Cast
Disney’s upcoming annual meeting on April 3 will determine board seats amidst competing activist agendas.

Peltz, as expressed in his Financial Times interview, also cast doubt on the performance record of Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige. Even Iger acknowledged Marvel’s saturation of sequels, which he believed diluted the quality.

Nonetheless, Marvel Studios has delivered 33 films collectively grossing nearly $30 billion globally.

Trian Fund Management, led by Peltz, is vying for two board seats, one for Peltz himself and another for former Disney financial chief Jay Rasulo. Concurrently, another activist firm, Blackwells Capital, is advocating for three Disney board seats.

Disney’s annual meeting, where voting will conclude, is slated for April 3.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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