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The Futures of Pixar and Disney Animation Are in Good Hands

Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter to receive promotions as John Lasseter is set to exit Disney by the end of 2018.
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By  · Published on June 12th, 2018

Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter to receive promotions as John Lasseter is set to exit Disney by the end of 2018.

John Lasseter, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and chief creative officer of Disney’s animation branch, is leaving The Walt Disney Company at the end of this year. While that may seem initially heartbreaking to see the man behind Toy Story move on, this update also comes with a sigh of relief for his employees, as Lasseter wasn’t an ideal role model for how an industry leader should behave.

Lasseter’s reign at Pixar was a successful one — that is, in terms of creative output if not workplace behaviors — and it will be interesting to see how things at the studio move along without him. His name is still attached to Toy Story 4, set to release in 2019, and that may be why he’s sticking around Disney in a consulting role until the end of this year.

Given that he was the director of Toy Story and Toy Story 2, and a producer and original story credit on all four, Disney most likely feels it necessary to keep Lasseter around to ensure that things go smoothly leading up to the release of what we assume is the final part in the Toy Story franchise.

As for Walt Disney and Pixar’s upcoming slate of unreleased films? Those will ultimately be left in the hands of Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter.

Lee is the directorial mind behind Frozen. She also holds writer and story credits for Wreck-It Ralph and Zootopia. Although nothing official has been announced for Lee’s future beyond her directing Frozen 2, I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more of her following her expected promotion at Walt Disney Animation.

As for Docter, we’ve seen and been highly impressed with his direction of Monsters, Inc., Up, and Inside Out, so there’s no doubt that his promotion to take “greater responsibilities at Pixar” will be a relief to fans everywhere. And if the rumors are true, we might be in for a treat with another upcoming untitled Docter-directed film.

While the five slated Pixar films after Toy Story 4 are untitled, one will take the shape of what Lasseter described as “an adventure set in a suburban fantasy world,” where we follow two creatures searching for their lost father. The story is reportedly inspired by director Dan Scanlon’s own personal experience with losing his father at a young age. It’s no Toy Story, but this film already appears to have the classic “Pixar touch.” You know, the kind that warms your heart and makes you weep for 20 consecutive minutes before a beautiful and colorful ending?

Although Lasseter’s future departure may cause some concern about the future of the company, the employees of The Walt Disney Company will surely feel a more comfortable in their workspace. A “day of listening” took place this past February at Walt Disney Animation Studios to ensure that the staff would be able to express any concerns that they had for themselves or others at work.

After that day of listening, several employees began petitioning to ensure that Lasseter would not return after his six month sabbatical. We can only hope that after his permanent leave at the end of 2018, the Disney workplace will become a safer, more comfortable environment for those employed. And as for the future of Pixar movies? Things seem to be in pretty good hands.

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