The Walt Disney Company has named the new Chief Creative Officers of Pixar and Disney Animation. Pete Docter will be leading Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios will be headed by Jennifer Lee.
Lee and Docter will succeed John Lasseter, who stepped down as chief creative officer of both animation studios, after admitting last year that he had committed unspecified “missteps” that left some employees feeling “disrespected or uncomfortable.” Lasseter had a history of alleged sexual misconduct towards employees. The news comes as Lasseter’s six-month sabbatical has now ended.
Lee joined Disney Animation in 2011 as one of the co-writers of Wreck-It Ralph. She went on to write and direct Frozen with Chris Buck. Frozen became the highest-grossing animated film of all time, making $1.28 billion at the worldwide box office, and went on to win the Oscar’s for best animated feature and best original song (“Let It Go”). She returned to direct and write the short film Frozen Fever, and is currently in production on Frozen 2. She is a member of Disney Animation’s Story Trust, which was formed in 2006. Lee was also co-writer on Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle In Time.
In an official statement, Lee said, “I am deeply grateful to everyone at Walt Disney Animation Studios and The Walt Disney Company for this opportunity. Animation is the most collaborative art form in the world, and it is with the partnership of my fellow filmmakers, artists and innovators that we look ahead to the future. My hope is to support the incredible talent we have, find new voices and work together to tell original stories. The great films of Disney Animation — the films I loved as a kid and my daughter has grown up loving — are magical, timeless and full of heart, and it is our goal to create films that carry on and grow this 95-year legacy for future generations.”
Docter is one of Pixar’s original employees, joining in 1990. He has gone on to direct Monsters, Inc., Up, and Inside Out, all to critical acclaim. Docter is also an original member of Pixar’s Brain Trust, which oversees development on all movies at the studio. He has won two best animated feature Oscar’s for Up and Inside Out.
Docter said in a statement of his own, “I am excited and humbled to be asked to take on this role. It is not something I take lightly; making films at Pixar has been my chronic obsession since I started here 28 years ago. I am fortunate to work alongside some of the most talented people on the planet, and together we will keep pushing animation in new directions, using the latest technology to tell stories we hope will surprise and delight audiences around the world.”
Docter and Lee will have creative oversight of all films and associated projects of their respective studios, and will report directly to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn.
Docter was working on a new film at Pixar before being named CCO. He says he plans on finishing it, “At least, they haven’t told me otherwise”, Docter commented.
What are your thoughts on the new leaders of Pixar and Disney Animation? Are you optimistic about the future of the two studios? Let us know down in the comments.