He will stay on to consult through the year; top replacement prospects are Pete Docter at Pixar and Jennifer Lee at Disney.
One of the most powerful executives in animation, Lasseter announced Nov. 21 he was taking a six-month sabbatical during which he would reflect on behavior — including unwanted touching, hugs and kissing women colleagues – that had generated complaints at both companies.
While no successor was named, it has been widely reported that Inside Out director Pete Docter is the most likely candidate to replace Lasseter at Pixar; Frozen writer and co-director Jennifer Lee is reportedly the top choice to step into his role at Disney.
Women at Pixar have said it was well known that Lasseter liked to give hugs, as well as less-welcome physical contact including rubbing their legs and kissing on the lips. It also was well-known that Lasseter liked to drink alcohol at parties, often to excess.
In a statement, Lasseter said: “The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities. 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 I’m grateful for all of the opportunities to follow my creative passion at Disney.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledged Lasseter’s contributions to both studios while avoiding direct discussions of the reasons for his departure” “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. We are profoundly grateful for his contributions, which included a masterful and remarkable turnaround of The Walt Disney Animation Studios. One of John’s 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.”