According to a report on Cartoon Brew, Brenda Chapman, the director of the only non-sequel Pixar movie for the next couple of years, 2012’s “Brave,” has been fired and replaced by story artist Mark Andrews (who co-directed the charming short “One Man Band” about dueling street musicians). Now, while this is a fairly common practice in the animated field, if a movie is troubled or in danger of missing its deadline, most famously when “Incredibles” director Brad Bird replaced Pixar mainstay Jan Pinkava as the writer and director of “Ratatouille,” a mere 18 months before it was set to be released (also, “How to Train Your Dragon” co-writers/directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois came on late in the game).
But the thing that rankles people, and makes this something more of a story, is that Brenda Chapman would be the first female director responsible for a feature film. Chapman comes from a prestigious animation background, working for Disney in the story department on “The Lion King” before moving over to DreamWorks to co-direct the warmly received biblical epic “Prince of Egypt.” “Brave,” originally titled “The Bow and the Bear,” was an incredibly personal project that she nourished from the ground up — it’s been described to us as “Pixar’s feminist Viking movie.”
We should have questioned her position at the company earlier – when reports came out about the Pixar Brain Trust (a loose amalgam of the company’s biggest and brightest) conferencing on “Tron Legacy” and the upcoming “Muppet” movie, there was no mention of her name, which struck us as odd. After all, she was inducted into this sacred group almost as soon as she joined the studio a few years ago. Cartoon Brew is reporting that she has left the studio altogether, which would obviously be a huge loss to Pixar.
While we remain cautiously optimistic about “Brave,” especially because there isn’t a number after the title (we have “Cars 2” and “Monsters Inc. 2” coming shortly), this certainly isn’t going to improve accusations that Pixar is a “boys club.” BTW, while Pixar have no comment, THR seems to have confirmed this report.