Pixar picks up top ‘Toy’ boy

Two-time Oscar winner working on 4th feature

John Lasseter has reupped with Pixar Animation Studios, inking a 10-year contract to continue overseeing the creative development of films at the studio behind “Toy Story.”

Lasseter, 44, has helmed Pixar’s three computer-animated hits “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life” and “Toy Story 2.” He is executive producing the studio’s fourth pic, “Monsters Inc.,” skedded to bow in November.

The two-time Oscar winner is now also in development on a fourth feature film he will helm. Lasseter will continue to oversee all of Pixar’s features as executive vice president of creative out of Pixar’s new Emeryville headquarters, near San Francisco.

“It’s the dream of every animator and storyteller to help build a studio from scratch that embraces the creative values we hold dear,” Lasseter said. “I love working with all of the other incredibly talented people at our studio. A place like Pixar doesn’t happen often, and I feel like one of the luckiest guys on earth.”

Lasseter joined Pixar in 1986, after spending five years as an animator at the Walt Disney Co., where he worked on films such as “The Fox and the Hound” and “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.”

As its most jovial spokesman, he is credited for helping shape Pixar’s image and internal corporate culture and will also guide the studio’s effort to increase production and release a pic every other year, if not annually.

“John Lasseter, more than anyone else, has shaped Pixar into the world-class animation studio it is today,” said Pixar CEO Steve Jobs. “With John leading our creative team for the next decade, our dream of nurturing a golden age of animation at Pixar may come true.”

Disney, which has a five-picture co-production partnership with Pixar, will distribute “Monsters” in November and will release Pixar’s fifth pic, “Finding Nemo,” in summer 2003. Pixar’s last three pics have generated $1.2 billion at the box office worldwide.

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