John Lasseter is leaving his position as chief creative officer of both Pixar Animation and Walt Disney by the end of the year, according to the Walt Disney Company. Instrumental in the rise of Pixar — which made a name for itself with the likes of “Toy Story” and “A Bug’s Life” before being acquired by Disney — he went on a six-month sabbatical last November stemming from “missteps” that resulted in some employees feeling “disrespected or uncomfortable.”
“I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them,” Lasseter wrote in a memo to Pixar staff announcing his leave.
“As hard as it is for me to step away from a job I am so passionate about and a team I hold in the highest regard, not just as artists but as people, I know it’s the best thing for all of us right now. My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.”
Lasseter was not at this week’s premiere of “The Incredibles 2.” He will continue in a consulting role until December 31.
Disney provided he folowing statement:
“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,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “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.”
“The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities,” said John Lasseter. “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.”
Additional reporting by Jenna Marotta.