For the fourth time in eight movies, Pixar replaces a director midstream, this time taking Bob Peterson off The Good Dinosaur.
Pixar has confirmed that director Bob Peterson has been removed from its 2014 animated feature, The Good Dinosaur, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
“All directors get really deep in their films,” Catmull reportedly said. “Sometimes you just need a different perspective to get the idea out. Sometimes directors ... are so deeply embedded in their ideas it actually takes someone else to finish it up. I would go so far as to argue that a lot of live-action films would be better off with that same process.”
Peterson, who began at Pixar as an animator on its first feature film, Toy Story, and co-directed the 2009 Oscar-winning movie Up, conceived the idea for The Good Dinosaur, which envisions an Earth where dinosaurs never became extinct.
Until a new director is named, Pixar is relying on a team of people to shepherd various sections of the movie, due in theaters in nine months. That group includes Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, Brave director Mark Andrews and the film's original co-director Peter Sohn.
The move comes as Pixar is under mounting pressure to build on its early successes in an increasingly competitive marketplace; this year will see the wide theatrical release of 11 animated movies, up from six a decade ago.
The studio has changed directors on three other films — Brad Bird replaced Jan Pinkava on the 2007 movie Ratatouille, Lasseter replaced Brad Lewis on 2011's Cars 2 and Andrews replaced Brenda Chapman on 2012's Brave. Each of those movies went on to gross more than $500 million at the box office worldwide, and Brave and Ratatouille won Oscars for animated feature.
Pixar's 2013 film, the comedy Monsters University from first-time feature director Dan Scanlon, just became the fourth Pixar film to pass $700 million at the global box office, finding a large audience despite comparatively moderate reviews.
Peterson reportedly has another directing project in development, according to Jim Morris, general manager and executive vice president of production for Pixar. “Bob is still working at the studio, and we hope he will stay here for the rest of his natural life,” Morris said.
As of now, the release date for The Good Dinosaur is unchanged and the movie is proceeding on its production schedule, according to Catmull. “We've been around long enough to know it will never be smooth,” Catmull said. “But getting this process smooth is not our goal; our goal is to make the movie great.”
Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.