In the time of #MeToo, a number of critical changes are due inside two of the world's most prolific animation studios, Pixar and Disney.
In the wake of sexual allegations against Toy Story director John Lasseter, Disney has named Pete Docter, Academy Award-winning director of Up and Inside Out, as the chief creative officer at Pixar. It has also named Jennifer Lee, who won an Oscar for the hit animated musical Frozen, as chief creative officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
The announcement follows Disney's decision to let Lasseter exit by the end of the year over a series of sexual misconduct allegations. Docter's and Lee's respective new roles don't come much as a surprise; the appointments have long been anticipated since Disney announced Lasseter would be leaving the company. The news concludes a long period of uncertainty at the two companies, as questions loomed about whether Lasseter would return to his post after a six-month leave of absence.
According to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn, Docter and Lee are two of the most talented storytellers he's ever worked with.
"Pete ... has been an integral part of Pixar almost since the beginning and is a huge part of its industry-leading success. Jenn, in bringing her bold vision to the boundary-breaking Frozen, has helped infuse Disney Animation with a new and exciting perspective."
Lee joined Disney in 2011 when she cowrote Wreck-It Ralph, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 85th Academy Awards. Years later, she directed Frozen with Chris Buck, a film whose massive success needs no explaining. She's currently in the middle of production for Frozen 2, out November next year.
"My hope is to support the incredible talent we have, find new voices, and work together to tell original stories," said Lee in a statement, as Deadline reports.
Docter, on the other hand, is responsible for some of Pixar's best films, including Inside Out, Monsters Inc., and Up, all of which have been nominated, if not won, Oscar trophies.
"I am excited and humbled to be asked to take on this role," Docter said in a statement. "It is not something I take lightly; making films at Pixar has been my chronic obsession since I started here 28 years ago."
It remains uncertain whether Lasserter will ever come back in some capacity, but it seems the possibility of that happening is zero, especially given the atmospheric changes in Hollywood with regard to sexual misconduct. Lasseter, though seen as a visionary storyteller, allegedly behaved inappropriately in the workplace. Reports say he touched women frequently, rubbed their legs, or kissed them on the lips.
Disney did not address such allegations, however. Instead, the company remarked his "remarkable tenure" while announcing his exit.