Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter have been tapped to lead Disney’s animation departments after the departure of chief creative officer John Lasseter.
The studio announced Tuesday that Lee and Docter will split Lasseter’s former duties: Lee, who co-directed Frozen, will serve as chief creative officer for Walt Disney Animation Studios, while Docter, who directed Up and Inside Out, will take the same position at Pixar. Both will report to Disney chairman Alan Horn and have “creative oversight of all films and associated projects of their respective studios.”
The news comes a few weeks after Disney announced that Lasseter will be leaving the company at the end of 2018. Lasseter previously served as chief creative officer for both Disney Animation and Pixar, but he took a leave of absence from the company in November, following several allegations of misconduct and inappropriate workplace behavior. Lasseter will take on a consulting role with the company through the end of the year.
“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 in a statement. “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 won an Oscar for co-directing Frozen with Chris Buck, and since joining the company in 2011 as the co-writer of Wreck-It Ralph, she’s worked on Disney projects like Zootopia and A Wrinkle in Time. She’s currently in production on Frozen 2, which is scheduled to hit theaters Nov. 27, 2019.
Docter is also an Oscar winner, for Up and Inside Out, and he’s a longtime Pixar employee who joined the studio in 1990 and has contributed to hits like Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and WALL-E.
“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 in a statement of his own. “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.”