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Disney CEO defends Gina Carano firing, hopes Kathleen Kennedy leads Lucasfilm for 'years to come’
A month after parting ways with one of The Mandalorian’s biggest supporting stars, Disney is defending its decision to shareholders, while serving up a bird's-eye view of the company's corporate values. After firing Cara Dune actor Gina Carano in February and hinting her role on the series won’t be recast, Disney appears determined to clarify that it takes no sides in the cultural war of words typified by the Carano controversy.
Speaking to shareholders on March 9, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said he views Disney+ and the rest of the entertainment outfits under the Disney umbrella as embracing “values that are universal,” according to multiple media reports. Via Variety, Chapek also said Disney doesn’t have a political axe to grind.
“I don’t really see Disney as characterizing itself as right-leaning or left-leaning,” he reportedly told shareholders, adding that the company does stand for “decency” and “integrity,” and creating “content that is reflective of the rich diversity of the world that we live in.”
Carano’s firing on Feb. 10 stemmed from social media remarks the actor made that, according to a Lucasfilm representative at the time, did not satisfy those kinds of values within the company. Carano’s “social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable,” the spokesperson said.
Chapek’s new remarks came in response to a Disney shareholder who “grilled” the Disney chief over the Carano controversy, via Variety, and addressed the company’s overall internal culture, rather than offering specific observations about the incident itself. The question came on a day when the Mouse House passed a big symbolic milestone, with Chapek revealing that The Mandalorian’s host platform Disney+ has surpassed 100 million subscribers — a feat it accomplished only 16 months out from its Nov. 2019 launch. For comparison, it took Netflix — currently the streaming leader with 203 million subscriptions — about 10 years to hit the 100 million mark.
The milestone also comes in what are still very early days for the young platform. Though The Mandalorian and Wandavision are both credited with driving big surges in Disney+ sign-ups, those shows represent a comparatively small opening salvo ahead of an enormous barrage of upcoming Marvel and Star Wars content coming exclusively to the service. At last year’s Disney Investor Day, the company tallied no fewer than 20 combined Marvel and Star Wars projects that are in the works. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is next on deck, heading to Disney+ for a March 19 premiere.
Also via Variety's report, Chapek gave Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy a big vote of confidence, telling shareholders on today's call that Disney plans to continue to grow its Star Wars content under her guidance well into the future. Saying he’s “absolutely thrilled” with Kennedy’s work at Lucasfilm, he added that Disney will “look forward to having Kathy directing the activities of the entire Lucasfilm operation for many years to come.”