Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar and president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, will retire next year.
Catmull announced the move on Tuesday (23) and will step down from his current role at The Walt Disney Company at end of 2018 and remain an employee in an advisory role through July 2019.
Following Catmull’s retirement, Pixar president Jim Morris and Walt Disney Animation Studios president Andrew Millstein will continue to oversee operations of their respective studios, reporting to Walt Disney Studios president Alan Bergman.
Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios will continue to be led creatively by chief creative officers Pete Docter and Jennifer Lee, respectively, reporting to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn.
Catmull’s pioneering work in computer animation and leadership in key technology companies for more than 45 years changed the face of film. He was hired by George Lucas in 1979 to lead Lucasfilm’s computer division, and co-founded Pixar Animation Studios in 1986 with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter.
When The Walt Disney Company acquired Pixar in 2006, Catmull became president of both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios. Since arriving at Disney, he has overseen Frozen, Zootopia, Coco, Incredibles 2, Toy Story 3, Wreck-It Ralph, and many others.
He has received five Academy Awards honouring advancements in technology and computer graphics, including the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for lifetime achievements in the field.
“Never in my wildest imagination could I have conceived of the path or the extraordinary people I have worked with over all of these years – the twists and turns, the ups and downs, along with exhilarating passion, talent, and dedication that have led to something extraordinary, something that has an enduring impact in the world,” said Catmull.
“From the request of George Lucas to bring technology to the film industry, to the vision of Steve Jobs, and the extraordinary freedom provided by Bob Iger, Alan Horn, and Alan Bergman, we continue to dream of stories and ways of making those stories that always surprise. I have the mixed emotions that come with stepping away from a group of people I love, but also with the utmost pride and pleasure that we now have at both Pixar and Disney Animation the most dedicated and imaginative leaders I have worked with.”
“Ed Catmull’s impact on the entertainment industry is immeasurable,” said The Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Iger. “A pioneer of the intersection of creativity and technology, Ed expanded the possibilities for storytellers along with the expectations of audiences. We’re profoundly grateful for his innumerable contributions, ranging from his pivotal, groundbreaking work at Lucasfilm and Pixar to the exceptional leadership he brought to Pixar and Walt Disney Animation over the last 12 years, and we wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
“Ed is a one-of-a-kind talent, a genius who sees beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary,” said Horn. “His unique perspective and invaluable leadership have fostered the creation of films and technologies that will stand the test of time.”