*This is a user-submitted post by Ernesto Chacon*
John Lasseter, the man who served as the creative force behind the Pixar films Toy Story, Cars, Monster’s Inc., Up as well as recent Disney hits such as Tangled, Frozen, Moana, and Zootopia will step down as Chief Creative Officer from both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios at the end of this year, following “missteps” that made his colleagues feel “disrespected and uncomfortable” last November in the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements which gained momentum in Hollywood.
According to a statement by the Walt Disney Company posted on Friday, Lasseter will continue to remain as a consultant at both companies for the next six months until December 31, 2018, when he will part ways with the company permanently. Disney CEO Bob Iger praised Lasseter’s tenure as “remarkable” and said:
“We are profoundly grateful for his contributions, which included a masterful and remarkable turnaround of The Walt Disney Animation Studios.”
Lasseter also issued a statement and said:
“The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career, and personal priorities. While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney, I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges,” he said. “I am extremely proud of what two of the most important and prolific animation studios have achieved under my leadership and I’m grateful for all of the opportunities to follow my creative passion at Disney.”
Lasseter remained quiet during the past six months following his leave for a sabbatical since November 21, 2017, skipping the Academy Awards in March of 2018, when Pixar’s Coco won the Oscar for best feature animation and spending time in Italy and New Zealand. He also did not attend the recent premiere of Incredibles 2.
Over the past weeks, rumors of Lasseter returning for Disney in a role that would retain his creative input but limited his managerial responsibilities started to go around. This led to some employees feeling divided with some of them even threatening to quit, according to another person familiar with the matter. Indeed, some in the animation community started a #LoseLasseter campaign on social media.
Although his accusations aren’t on the same level as other powerful men in Hollywood who have been accused of sexual harassment like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, Lasseter has had a reputation among employees “for grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.” In addition, his legacy reflects its struggles with equality with women at Pixar, ranging from Brenda Chapman being replaced during the production of the 2012 film, Brave to Rashida Jones’ departure as a writer on the upcoming Toy Story 4 last fall.
Editor’s note 6/28/18: Recently, the Walt Disney Company announced that Jennifer Lee and Pete Doctor would be the new chief creative officers of Walt Disney Animation and Pixar. Please check this recent article for more on this story.
What are your thoughts about this change in leadership at two of the biggest animation studios?
Edited by: Kelly Conley