John Lasseter and Disney Will Part Ways at the End of the Year
The rise and the fall of John Lasseter will be a monumental story that will be discussed in Hollywood for years to come. How the most powerful man in animation couldn't keep his act together. Lasseter's wealth, fame, and notoriety may have gotten to his head.
Today, The Walt Disney Company announced that Lasseter would be leaving the company at the end of the year. John Lasseter was the chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar. He has been on a sabbatical since November 21 when The Hollywood Reporter broke a story surrounding Lasseter's inappropriate behavior. The story came during Hollywood's #MeToo movement was revealing the worse the city of stars had to offer. Lasseter who was linked to family-oriented Disney and Pixar helped created classics like Toy Story and Frozen. When the news broke about John Lasseter it was appalling. Possibly because he represented such a family based company. Many fans idolized Lasseter and dreamed of one day working with him. Then the dark stories surrounding Pixar came to light.
#LoseLasseter became a big hashtag that pressured Disney to finally oust Lasseter. He did not attend the Incredibles 2 premiere.
In a statement, Disney did indicate Lasseter would be staying on in a consultant role until December 31. The statement did not acknowledge the reason why Lasseter is leaving. The man is 61 he could of simply retired. Although Disney would've gotten heat for not relieving him of his duties earlier. In the statement Disney's CEO Bob Iger provides some dialogue.
“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,” CEO Bob Iger said in the statement, he would continue. “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.”
Lasseter in his own statement 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. 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."
Clearly in his statement he wants to continue doing animation in some type way. As long as facing new creative challenges. Does this mean John Lasseter could potentially start his own studio? Could a company scoop up the man that was once touted as the second coming of Walt Disney? Lasseter's post-Disney life will be a fascinating follow.
John Lasseter is now a lame duck. Holding on to his consulting gig while collecting money from Disney until December 31. We can all assume his payout will be large. In Variety, one Disney employee revealed their thoughts on Disney paying Lasseter for the upcoming months. “It feels very weird he can stay on payroll for the next six or seven months. They do know there’s a problem, It doesn’t feel like a great compromise."
Lasseter is not expected to have an office at Disney or Pixar during his consultancy. What will Lasseter be doing for the company within these next few months are unknown. Several Disney employees are uncomfortable with Lasseter's continued employment with the studio.
Disney hasn't revealed replacements for Lasseter's positions at either studio. The frontrunner at Walt Disney Animation Studio is Jennifer Lee, the writer-director of Frozen, that alone makes for a heck of a rèsumè. Pete Docter looks to be the frontrunner at Pixar. He was the director of Up and Inside Out along with being a part of Pixar's brain trust.
John Lasseter was carving a gigantic legacy at The Walt Disney Company. In 1979, he joined Disney as an animator. Later he joined Pixar feeling spurned by Disney. Pixar was still a division of Lucasfilm at the time. Along with Ed Catmull, the company went on to revolutionize computer animation. Lasseter directed Toy Story, and years later Pixar be came apart of Disney in 2006. Lasseter along with Catmull continued Pixar's success along with revitalizing Walt Disney Animation. John Lasseter also had a role within Walt Disney Imagineering. The arm that helps design Disney's world class theme parks.
Lasseter was a recognizable face in Disney-Pixar culture. The Hawaiian shirt wearing man was becoming a living legend. Then the scandal was reported and nothing would be the same. Lasseter was known for drinking at wrap parties, and was also known as a big hugger. Some employees appreciated the affection he showed, while others thought Lasseter lacked boundaries. At Disney and Pixar, Lasseter had minders who tried to control his impulses.
Although his time with Pixar was an astonishing success, Lasseter's legacy will always be plagued with gender representation and his lack of self-awareness. When Pixar finally made a film centered around a female character in Brave. Brenda Chapman was fired over creative differences, and was replaced by Mark Andrews. Chapman still received credit for her work on Brave but many still consider this a blunder within Lasseter's tenure. Women at Pixar felt discouraged, and that their ideas were being stifled.
During the Lasseter scandal, the media has learned a lot about Pixar. The creative and vibrant studio in California may have not been as sunny as we all thought. Many have dreamed about working at Pixar, earning a office in Emeryville, California, and being able to walk the same halls that were designed by the revolutionary Steve Jobs. After revitalizing Disney's animation units. The Walt Disney Company will face new challenges and braves 2019 without John Lasseter. One of the main creatives that has been with the company for 24 years.
Last year Pixar impressed with their film Coco. Which was directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. The film was applauded for its diversity. The film arrived at the height of the Lasseter issue. Walt Disney Animation Studios last film was Moana directed by legends Ron Clements and John Musker impressed audiences. In 2018, Incredibles 2 is Pixar's latest film. Walt Disney Animation Studios latest will be Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.
In 2019, the first year without Lasseter in the animation department will have his creation Toy Story continue. Toy Story 4 directed by Josh Cooley is currently under going some rewrites. Walt Disney Animation Studios has a box office gem in Frozen 2 in 2019. Another franchise Lasseter was deeply intertwined with.
John Lasseter's career plays out like a Hollywood film. An incredible rise, the character reaches unbelievable triumphs, and then our character becomes cocky and his story hits a climax. Then it is a fall from grace. The most powerful man in animation has fallen. It's a mixture of "don't meet your heroes" and "oh how the mighty have fallen." Disney and Pixar look to close this dark chapter in their history. I'm sure the employees of Disney and Pixar want to focus their energy into creative projects not worrying about their former superior.
Can Bob Iger steer the ship back in the right direction? As Richard Rushfield, of The Ankler pointed out in a tweet today. The final days of Iger are beginning to look a lot like the final days of Eisner. (I still believe Rushfield has the storytelling ability to craft a Disney War II). This Lasseter situation did not help the company, and not to mention we still have the looming Disney-Fox deal. Which would include Fox's animation studio in Blue Sky Studios. Which will only add fuel to the fire in Disney's current animation state.
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