Today, Pixar co-founder John Lasseter announced that he will be leaving The Walt Disney Company — including Pixar Animation Studios by the end of 2018. “The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities,” said John Lasseter. “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. 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.”
Back in November Lasseter took a six-month leave of absence, after allegations and “missteps” towards his subordinates. As the sabbatical has come to an end Disney released an official statement revealing that Lasseter will assume a consulting role with The Walt Disney Company, however that consulting role will expire December 31, 2018.
“John had a remarkable tenure at Pixar and Disney Animation, reinventing the animation business, taking breathtaking risks, and telling original, high-quality stories that will last forever,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “We are profoundly grateful for his contributions, which included a masterful and remarkable turnaround of The Walt Disney Animation Studios. One of John’s greatest achievements is assembling a team of great storytellers and innovators with the vision and talent to set the standard in animation for generations to come.”
The Hollywood Reporter is noting that director Pete Doctor (Pixar Animation Studios) and director Jennifer Lee (Disney Animation Studios) will be placed into larger roles within their studio upon Lasseter’s departure, though we would like to note that neither studio has named a successor at the time this article has been released.
This is tough news to hear. On one hand, John is one of the pioneers at Pixar and helped grow the company we respect deeply into what it is today. He likewise did the same thing with Disney animation as well. On the other hand, if he likewise did what he is accused of, then we believe this is the proper step to take.
Some have already reached out to us and ask why his role wouldn’t be eliminated right away — or, why it wasn’t eliminated back in November 2017. We think that the majority of this decision came from the standpoint of how integral John has been to the organization and the potential impact this would have on investors. The original six-month leave was more than likely a time to reflect and figure out the next steps by Disney. His consultation role through the end of 2018 also means that the company can assuage investors as a new individual is put in place as the creative head.
In any regard, we can only make assumptions as to what happened (or to what level they happened) without any additional details revealed. So, although today’s news may be heavy, Pixar is a company with a foundation of openness and tolerance for all. We look forward to the future of the company and the wonderful animation and artwork they produce.
What are your thoughts regarding the announcement? Leave a comment below, or talk about it with other Pixar fans in the Pixar Post Forum thread regarding Lasseters leave of absence and subsequent exit from the company.
Pixar Post — Julie & T.J.