John Lasseter, an early leader at Pixar and the architect of an animation renaissance at the Walt Disney Company, will permanently leave the media company at the end of 2018, Disney announced on Friday. Lasseter has been on sabbatical since November, amid allegations of unwanted touching. He will assume a consulting role at Disney until December 31, 2018, at which time he will depart.
“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,” Disney C.E.O. Bob Iger said in a statement. “We are profoundly grateful for his contributions, which included a masterful and remarkable turnaround of The Walt Disney Animation Studios. One of Johns 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.”
Few executives have ever been so publicly identified with their companies as Lasseter was. Likened to a next-generation Walt Disney, the animators presence at events like the Disney fan-convention D23 often inspired as much excitement among the audience as A-list actors. In November, Lasseter became the latest in a line of powerful men in Hollywood, media, and politics to face allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct. (Lasseter responded to the allegations in a company memo.
“The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities,” Lasseter said in a statement provided by Disney. “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 Im grateful for all of the opportunities to follow my creative passion at Disney.”
Disney has not announced a successor for Lasseter, who was in the unique position of helming two major animation studios, but Frozen director __ Jennifer Lee__ and Inside Out director Pete Docter may take on greater responsibilities at their respective studios, according to media reports.
In recent weeks, a Twitter campaign, #LoseLasseter, had begun to take hold among members of the animation community. Igers flattering statement about the departing executive suggested to one former Disney employee that some of the cultural problems at the media conglomerate, including a lack of support for women in creative roles at Pixar in particular, remain. “Im incredibly disappointed that we waited six months for Disney to do the right thing and they didnt,” the former employee said. “It doesnt seem like theyve addressed the issues.”
In November, Walt Disney Animation Studios will release Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2. Pixars latest film, Incredibles 2, arrives in theaters next week.
Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Rebecca KeeganRebecca Keegan is a Hollywood Correspondent for Vanity Fair.