As expected, Disney has named Jennifer Lee head of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pete Docter head of Pixar in the wake of the John Lasseter controversy.
Both executives are named chief creative officer in their respective roles and report to The Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn.
The succession comes after Disney announced it was letting go of Lasseter following allegations of improper behaviour towards women. The former Disney animation chief will leave the studio on December 31 after a six-month transitional stint as consultant.
“Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter are two of the most gifted filmmakers and storytellers I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with,” Horn said. “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 joined Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2011 as co-writer of Wreck-It Ralph and alongside Chris Buck she directed the Oscar-winning Frozen, which remains the highest grossing animation in history.
She played a key role on the story team for Zootopia and is currently in production on Frozen 2, due out in November 2019. Lee serves as an executive producer on the upcoming Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Docter wrote and directed Oscar-winners Up and Inside Out, and Monsters, Inc. He was one of Pixar’s first employees after joining the studio in 1990 and is an original member of the studio’s Brain Trust, contributing to the stories and screenplays of many projects. He was an executive producer on Brave and Monsters University.
“I am deeply grateful to everyone at Walt Disney Animation Studios and The Walt Disney Company for this opportunity,” Lee said. “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.”
“I am excited and humbled to be asked to take on this role,” Docter said. “It is not something I take lightly; making films at Pixar has been my chronic obsession since I started here 28 years ago. 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.”
Jim Morris, president of Pixar Animation Studios, and Andrew Millstein, president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, will continue to report to Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios president Ed Catmull, who reports to Horn.