New Chief Creative Officers announced for both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios to replace position held by the out-going John Lasseter. At Disney writer, director, and producer Jennifer Lee steps into the lead creative role, while at Pixar Pete Docter will be handed a similar mantle. These picks were widely expected by industry insiders.
The Chief Creative Officer has “creative oversight of all films and associated projects” said Disney in its announcement. Both positions will report directly to Walt Disney Studios chair Alan Horn.
In the official announcement Horn said, “Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter are two of the most gifted filmmakers and storytellers I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Pete, the genius creative force behind Up, Inside Out, and Monsters, Inc., 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. Each of them embodies the unique spirit, culture, and values of these renowned animation studios, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have them to lead us into the future.”
Lee has been with the Walt Disney Company since she joined as a co-writer of “Wreck-it Ralph” in 2011. She famously co-wrote and co-directed the mega hit “Frozen” and is working on “Frozen 2.” She also wrote the script for Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time.”
In a 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 has been in a key role at Pixar Animation Studios where he directed films such as “Up,” “Inside Out,” and “Monster’s Inc.” He started with Pixar way back in 1990.
“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,” Docter said in a statement. “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.”
Lee and Docter also have the very important job of maintaining the so-called animation and storytelling story-trust that all movie pitches and story ideas head to for review multiple times throughout each film’s development.
Jim Morris, President, Pixar Animation Studios, and Andrew Millstein, President, Walt Disney Animation Studios, will continue to report to Ed Catmull, President, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, who reports to Horn.
What wasn’t announced today was if anyone would take over Lasseter’s role as consultant at Walt Disney Imagineering where he was helping develop new lands and stories within Disney’s creative theme park design division.