George Lucas backs Disney CEO in proxy fight with Nelson Peltz: ‘Creating magic is not for amateurs’

George Lucas and Nelson Peltz
George Lucas and Nelson Peltz

Filmmaker George Lucas has backed Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger in the media company’s bitter proxy battle with activist investor Nelson Peltz and hedge fund Blackwells Capital.

Lucas, who received 37.1 million Disney shares as part of the company’s $4.05 billion purchase of his Lucasfilm studio in 2012, is currently the largest individual investor in the company, according to CNBC, citing multiple sources.

“I remain a significant shareholder because I have full faith and confidence in the power of Disney and Bob’s track record of driving long-term value. I have voted all of my shares for Disney’s 12 directors and urge other shareholders to do the same,” Lucas said in a statement seen by Reuters.

George Lucas is currently the largest individual investor in the company. handout
George Lucas is currently the largest individual investor in the company. handout

The filmmaker, who’s best known for creating the “Star Wars” franchise, weighed in one day after Disney received a critical endorsement from proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis, urging shareholders to re-elect all of the company’s directors.

Lucas’s relationship with Disney’s chief executive dates to Iger’s days running ABC Entertainment, when he greenlit the network television series “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.”

The show opened in 1992 to a large audience, which declined over time, and was canceled after a second season, Iger wrote in his autobiography, “The Ride of a Lifetime.”

Iger wrote that he was able to build upon that relationship to approach Lucas about selling his company.

“Creating magic is not for amateurs. When I sold Lucasfilm just over a decade ago, I was delighted to become a Disney shareholder because of my long-time admiration for its iconic brand and Bob Iger’s leadership,” Lucas said Tuesday in his statement of support. “When Bob returned to the company during a difficult time, I was relieved. No one knows Disney better.”

Iger returned to Disney in November 2022, following the brief, tumultuous tenure of CEO Bob Chapek.

Nelson Peltz has slammed Disney and is seeking a seat on the board. REUTERS
Nelson Peltz has slammed Disney and is seeking a seat on the board. REUTERS
Disney and Bob Iger have been gathering the support of prominent figures who are well-known to individual investors Getty Images
Disney and Bob Iger have been gathering the support of prominent figures who are well-known to individual investors Getty Images

Disney and Iger have been gathering the support of prominent figures who are well-known to individual investors.

The grandchildren of Disney founders Roy and Walt Disney last month publicly backed Iger and the board, calling the activist investors “wolves in sheep’s clothing” waiting to tear the company apart.”

Peltz’s Trian Fund Management had argued that Disney was slow to adopt to changes in streaming and bungled succession planning, creating a “leadership void” and had lost its creative spark.

Blackwells is pushing for the company to better harness technology and consider separating is parks and real estate.