Disney CEO Bob Iger on Disney and Pixar Animation: You Need to Work on "Improving Creative Output

In a wide-ranging conversation with CNBC's Squawk Box that aired Thursday morning, Disney CEO Bob Iger discussed the various challenges facing the company.

Notably, he spoke at length about Disney and Pixar's feature animation division, perhaps for the first time since his return as CEO last November. Though cautious and diplomatic in tone, Iger's answers made it clear that both studios feel they have not been firing on all cylinders in recent years. This is despite the fact that Disney (on the strength of its live-action films) is currently the number one studio at the global box office through the first half of this year.

For Pixar in particular, he acknowledged that the studio's strategy of streaming its films directly may not have been the best idea, but added that some of the studio's recent struggles are due to "creative failure." I think the fact that three Pixar films in a row have gone to streaming, mostly because of "Cobit," has created an expectation among viewers that they will eventually go to streaming, and probably soon, and there is no urgency anymore. Then, I think you would agree that there were some failures on the creative side as well.

Asked by CNBC's David Faber whether the departure of Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter affected the animation department, Iger acknowledged that it might have. There are other departures, not just John (Lasseter). That could be a factor.

He also acknowledged that Disney's animation division has historically had its peaks and valleys, dating back to the days when Walt Disney was running the studio, and is not necessarily at its peak now. If you look at [Walt Disney's] history, there have been peaks and valleys. There were always peaks after valleys. I studied it very carefully. After "Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid," "The Lion King," and other films that were very successful, there was another downturn. I am not saying that now is necessarily the time, but I am also not saying that now is the peak. We have work to do in terms of improving our creative output.

A segment filmed at the Sun Valley Conference in Idaho, where Iger spoke about the animation department, can be seen below: