Even With Pay Cuts, Disney’s Biggest Executives Made MILLIONS in 2020

2020 was a challenging year for many businesses and individuals all around the world.

A Peek at Disney World Now

When it comes to the Walt Disney Company, 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in months where the theme parks were closed (Disneyland Paris is still closed at the moment), thousands of employees that were furloughed or laid off, and some big financial losses in the parks division. During 2020, some Disney executives also agreed to take some pay cuts — but did those pay cuts actually impact their salaries in a big way? We’re taking a look now.

The Pay Cuts

In late March of 2020, we shared some details about the reductions in salary that two Disney executives would be taking. Specifically, these were the reductions agreed to:

  • Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger would forgo his entire salary; and
  • Disney Chief Executive Chairman (CEO) Bob Chapek would take a 50% salary reduction.

Bob Chapek ©Bloomberg

Other Disney executives also received a reduction to their salaries as a direct result of these difficult times, some by 20%, others by 25%, and others by 30%.

The Pay Cuts End

These pay cuts didn’t last terribly long though. In August of 2020 we learned that the temporary salary reductions at Disney would be lifted near the end of the month. At the time, it was unclear, however, if that would impact Bob Iger and Bob Chapek’s salaries at the time.

Bob Iger ©New York Post

As Disney’s proxy statement indicates Iger agreed to continue to forgo parts of his base salary through the last payroll period in fiscal 2020 (which ended in October of 2020). Chapek’s salary reductions only remained in place through August of 2020.

What Was the Impact?

When Chapek and Iger first announced their individual salary cuts, we took a look at just how much they were actually giving up as these were really just cuts to their BASE salaries. The wrinkle here is that Iger and Chapek get compensation through several means beyond their base salaries. In fact, their base salaries really only make a small percentage of their total income. Earlier this year, we got a look at what Chapek and Iger really earned in 2020, and now we’re breaking it down in terms of what impact their pay cuts really had.

Bob Iger

In 2019, Bob Iger earned the following according to Variety:

  • $3 million in salary;
  • $21.8 million bonus;
  • $10 million in stock awards; and
  • $9.6 million in stock options.

All in all, Iger’s total compensation in 2019 was around $47 million.

When you look at this break-down it’s clear that in forgoing his entire salary, Iger was actually forgoing the smallest portion of his overall earnings.

Bob Iger ©Bloomberg

So, what happened in 2020? According to Disney’s proxy statement, Iger received the following in 2020:

  • $1.57 million in base salary;
  • $6.96 million in stock awards;
  • $9.59 million in option awards; and
  • $1.14 in all other compensation.

The chart also shows $1.78 million in “change in pension value and non qualified deferred compensation earnings.” All in all, Iger earned about $21 million for 2020.

Compared to 2019, that’s about a 55% difference. But, where did that difference really come from? Not salary. In terms of salary, Iger really only lost about $1.3 million by taking his pay cut for part of 2020. The biggest hit to his salary came from the loss of the bonus, as Disney did not issue bonuses to its top executives in 2020.


Iger is frequently one of the highest paid executives. In the chart above, you can see that he earned $65 million in 2018. But, his “salary” in 2018 was actually lower than it was in 2019. The real differences in overall compensation seem to come when other factors like stock awards, option awards, or bonuses are impacted.

Bob Chapek

The situation is pretty similar for Bob Chapek. There are no 2019 or 2018 figures to compare his salary to, but according to the Los Angeles Times, Chapek’s salary was expected to be:

  • $2.5 million in base salary;
  • plus a target bonus of $7.5 million; and
  • an annual long-term incentive award of $15 million.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek

According to Disney’s proxy statement, in 2020 Chapek earned the following:

  • $1.81 in salary;
  • $6.13 in stock awards;
  • $3.37 in option awards; and
  • $140,626 in other compensation.

Disney’s figures also show $2.71 in “change in pension value and non qualified deferred compensation earnings.”

All in all, Chapek earned about $14.16 million in 2020.


As you can see from the numbers, the biggest portion of Chapek’s overall compensation for 2020 didn’t come from his salary. Instead, Chapek earned over $9 in stock awards and option awards, far more than what his base salary was or was expected to be. The biggest impact to his overall compensation appears to be, like Iger, the loss of a bonus. Again, just like Iger, while salary forms a part of Chapek’s overall compensation, it doesn’t form the largest part of his compensation.

What Does it All Mean?

So, what do all of these figures and numbers mean? Well, Iger and Chapek’s overall compensations were impacted by their decisions to voluntarily take pay cuts of all or part of their salaries. But, the majority of their overall compensations come from sources other than their base salary. So, while they did agree to take pay cuts, they still made millions in 2020.

Bob Chapek

How did these pay cuts for Iger, Chapek, and the other executives impact the company’s finances overall? That’s not clear, but Disney did still report billions in losses when it comes to the Disney parks in 2020. If these pay cuts were not taken, could the Company have been in a worse spot financially? It’s possible, but not clear.

Spaceship Earth

Things are looking up for Disney’s future overall though. Disneyland’s theme parks have reopened after over a year of closures, several Disney movies are slated to be released in theaters and/or Disney+ this year, Iger has called Disney+ a “beacon of hope,” cruises have a bit more direction for when they may return to sailing this year, and more changes continue to be made all around the country that could impact Disney’s operations.

Tree of Life

What will the next year look like when it comes to Disney’s finances. We’ve seen a bit about their losses based on their first quarterly report of the 2021 fiscal year, and another quarterly report will be released soon. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more updates and will let you know what we find.

Click here to see Chapek’s comments on the future of Disney’s reservation system and more!

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The post Even With Pay Cuts, Disney’s Biggest Executives Made MILLIONS in 2020 first appeared on the disney food blog.