Pixar Animation Studios director Pete Docter and Walt Disney Animation Studios director Jennifer Lee are set to take on key new leadership roles as chief creative officers at their respective studios, the Walt Disney Company announced Tuesday.
The duo will replace John Lasseter, who is leaving the company amid allegations of unwanted touching. Docter, the director of Inside Out and Up, and Lee, the director of Frozen and screenwriter of A Wrinkle in Time, represent a new generation running the two most creatively and commercially vital animations studios in the world.
Docter, 49, started at Pixar in 1990, the day after he graduated from the California Institute of the Arts. In a company full of sharp elbows and big egos, the animator distinguished himself as an introvert adept at bringing a level of emotional depth to his films. The managerial responsibilities that came with directing crews of 200 to 300 people were something that Docter took on with some reluctance, and once described as “something Ive never even wanted.”
Lee, 46, who had been one of the writers on Disneys 2012 video-game movie Wreck-It Ralph, joined director Chris Buck on Frozen in 2012, and was the person who introduced the sister story line that became a crucial part of that films success. In a company with a difficult legacy in its treatment of female storytellers, Lee became an advocate for humanizing female characters—she is the person to thank, for instance, for the fact that Anna in Frozen has gas.
Disneys announcement follows a seven-month period of disruption at the studios, ever since Lasseter left on a sabbatical last November, sending a memo to employees apologizing for “missteps.” Lasseter has not announced his plans, but said only that he will be pursuing “new creative challenges.”
Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:See the Entire Cast of Disneys New Lion King
Donald Glover, Simba
Hes gonna be a mighty king, so enemies beware.Photo: Left, by Monica Schipper/WireImage; Right, from Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection.
This new version better give Nala at least a few songs.Photo: Left, by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images; Right, from Walt Disney Pictures/Photofest.
James Earl Jones, Mufasa
Get your tissues ready now, folks.Photo: Left, by Walter McBride/WireImage; Right, from Walt Disney Pictures/Photofest.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Scar
“Be prepared.”Photo: Left, by Mike Marsland/WireImage; Right, from Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection.
John Oliver, Zazu
“This child is getting wildly out of wing!”Photo: Left, by Ray Tamarra/GC Images; Right, from Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection.
Florence Kasumba, Shenzi
Florence will be replacing Whoopi Goldberg, but were guessing this hyena still has a taste for “cub” sandwiches.Photo: Left, by Target Presse Agentur Gmbh/Getty Images; Right, from Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection.
Eric Andre, Keegan-Michael Key, Azizi and Kamari
Looks like Banzai and Ed have gotten a bit of a makeover. Were not sure how similar these new hyenas will be to the old ones, but were guessing that as with the original, theyll be following Shenzis lead.Photo: From left, from Walt Disney Pictures/Photofest, by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic, by Vera Anderson/WireImage, from Walt Disney Pictures/Photofest.PreviousNext
Rebecca KeeganRebecca Keegan is a Hollywood Correspondent for Vanity Fair.