Search form

Pixar Co-Founder Ed Catmull Retiring After 40 Years

Catmull transitioning to an advisory role to end in summer 2019; Pixar president Jim Morris and Walt Disney Animation Studios president Andrew Millstein to continue in Catmull’s place.

After 40 years since he was first hired to work at Lucasfilm, Ed Catmull will stepping down from his role as president of Pixar and Disney Animation at the end of 2018. Photograph by Deborah Coleman/courtesy of Pixar Animation Studios.

LOS ANGELES -- Dr. Ed Catmull, Pixar co-founder and President of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, has announced his planned retirement from The Walt Disney Company next year, stepping down from his current role at the end of 2018 and staying on as an employee in an advisory role through July 2019, marking 40 years since being hired at Lucasfilm to develop technology for the film industry.

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 creatively led by Chief Creative Officers Pete Docter and Jennifer Lee, respectively, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.

“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 Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “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 Alan Horn, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. “His unique perspective and invaluable leadership have fostered the creation of films and technologies that will stand the test of time.”

Catmull’s pioneering work in computer animation and visionary leadership in key technology companies including Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Disney over the past 45-plus years changed the face of film. Catmull was hired by George Lucas in 1979 to lead Lucasfilm’s computer division, before co-founding Pixar Animation Studios in 1986 with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter. Pixar released the world’s first feature-length computer animated film, the seminal Toy Story, in 1995 and has broken creative and technological boundaries ever since. The studio’s 20 feature films have won 15 Academy Awards and earned more than $13 billion in global box office; its most recent film, Incredibles 2, broke records in its debut and is the highest grossing animated film in U.S. box office history.

Catmull’s association with Disney goes back to 1986 with Pixar’s work on the Computer Animation Production System (CAPS), and Disney has released all of Pixar’s feature films. Upon The Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of Pixar in 2006, Catmull became President of both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios. Since arriving at Disney, Catmull has overseen numerous groundbreaking films from both studios, including five billion-dollar hits -- Disney’s Frozen and Zootopia and Pixar’s Incredibles 2, Toy Story 3, and Finding Dory -- alongside such beloved films as Pixar’s Wall-E, Up, Inside Out, and Coco and Disney’s The Princess and The Frog, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, and Moana.

Source: The Walt Disney Company