John Lasseter will leave Disney at the end of 2018. Last year, the Pixar CCO was one of the biggest names in Hollywood to be accused of sexual harassment and misconduct, prompting Lasseter to take a prolonged leave of absence from his position. Since then, outsiders have watched with interest to see what his future with the company would be. For the longest time, particularly after Pixar held a "day of listening," it looked like Lasseter wouldn't return. Just a couple of months ago, reports suggested Disney was preparing to move on.
However, back in May, that tune shifted and word was Disney was considering allowing Lasseter to return in a limited role, which would prove to be an extremely controversial decision in the wake of the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements. As it turns out, Lasseter is going to rejoin Disney, but his days with the studio are numbered and he'll be gone before the calendar flips to 2019.
According to THR, the plan is for Lasseter to have a consulting role with Disney until he departs on December 31, 2018. Lasseter and Disney CEO Bob Iger released statements on the matter:
Iger: "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. We are profoundly grateful for his contribution, 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: "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 the opportunities to follow my creative passion at Disney."
Disney has yet to officially name replacements for Lasseter (who was the head man at both Pixar and Disney Animation), though an announcement on that front should be made soon. For the time being, the expectation is for Pete Docter and Jennifer Lee to handle increased responsibilities at Pixar and Disney, respectively. Both have been involved in Oscar-winning smashes for the Mouse House (including Inside Out and Frozen), so they'd likely be strong fits overseeing the studios. Whether it's through Pixar or their in-house department, Disney's animated films are typically critically acclaimed box office hits. Since the advent of the Best Animated Feature Academy Award in 2001, Pixar and Disney have combined for 12 wins and 21 nominations.
Lasseter was definitely instrumental in shaping that standard, helping push the medium in new directions with the revolution of computer animation. By spearheading films like Toy Story, he was essentially Walt Disney for an entire generation of moviegoers, but his legacy will forever be marred by his various "misdeeds" that ended up being his undoing. Hopefully, this marks the beginning of a new era for both Pixar and Disney Animation, and both studios can continue to thrive while learning from the experience and improving workplace conditions for the future.