×

Jennifer Lee, Pete Docter to Run Disney Animation, Pixar

Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter will split John Lasseter’s duties at Disney, as the studio’s animation division tries to move forward after the tumultuous departure of its leading creative force.

Lee, the director of “Frozen,” has been named chief creative officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios, while Docter, the director of “Inside Out,” has been tapped as chief creative officer at Pixar Animation Studios. Both had been rumored to be in the running to assume those roles.

Despite being credited with reviving Disney’s animation offerings and helping create film classics such as “Up” and “The Incredibles,” Lasseter is leaving the company under a cloud. Last fall, he took an extended sabbatical after allegations broke that he engaged in inappropriate workplace behavior. Earlier this month, Disney announced that Lasseter would leave the studio at the end of the year. He is consulting for Disney, but will not have an office at the animation headquarters.

Lee joined Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2011 as co-writer on “Wreck-It Ralph.” Her work as a co-director on “Frozen,” earned an Academy Award for best animated feature. Docter’s credits also include “Up” and “Monsters, Inc.” He was one of Pixar’s first employees and is an original member of its “brain trust,” the company’s name for its committee of storytellers who help shape its films through an exhaustive development and production process. Both will report to Alan Horn, the studio chairman.

Popular on Variety

“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,” said Lee. “My hope is to support the incredible talent we have, find new voices, and work together to tell original stories.”

“I started here 28 years ago,” said Docter. “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.”

Lasseter presented a major dilemma for Disney. He was seen as a visionary, with a keen story sense and an uncanny ability to understand what audiences craved. However, his professional behavior was a liability. Female employees told Variety that he had a reputation for touching women inappropriately in the office, including rubbing their legs and kissing them on the lips. Lasseter was also reprimanded for making out with a subordinate at an Oscar party in 2010, sources said. Disney has not commented publicly on whether or not it conducted an investigation into his behavior. Instead, it praised Lasseter’s “remarkable tenure” at the company while announcing his exit.

Despite the bad headlines involving Lasseter, Disney’s animation team continues to deliver hits. Last weekend, “The Incredibles 2” opened to rave reviews and scored the biggest animated debut in history, earning a massive $182.7 million.

More Film

  • Dan Scanlon (L) and US producer

    Berlin: Director Dan Scanlon Discusses Pixar’s 'Onward,' and His Michigan Inspiration

    Pixar’s “Onward” saw its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival, and the film’s director, Dan Scanlon, and producer, Kori Rae, talked to the press at the festival about the film, which follows brother elves on a magical quest to reconnect with their late father. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt voice the brothers who [...]

  • Johnny Depp arrives for the 'Minamata'

    Johnny Depp on 'Power of the Small' at Launch of 'Minamata' at Berlin Film Festival

    Johnny Depp arrived at the Berlin Film Festival Friday to support the film “Minamata,” in which he plays celebrated war photographer W. Eugene Smith. In the film, based on real events, Smith is pitted against a powerful corporation responsible for poisoning with mercury the people of Minamata in Japan in 1971. Directed by Andrew Levitas, [...]

  • "Last Film Show"

    Berlin: Orange Studio Launches 'The Last Film Show,' 'Old Fashioned, 'Love Song For Tough Guys' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Under the new leadership of industry veteran Kristina Zimmermann, Orange Studio, the film/TV division of the French telco group Orange, is launching three new projects at Berlin’s European Film Market: “Last Film Show,” “Old Fashioned” and “Love Song for Tough Guys.” Directed by Pan Nalin (“Samsara”), “Last Film Show” follows Samay, a 9-year-old boy living [...]

  • Bootlegger

    Best Friend Forever Acquires Cannes' Cinefondation Prizewinning 'Bootlegger' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brussels-based company Best Friend Forever has acquired international sales rights to Caroline Monnet’s feature debut “Bootlegger” which won best screenplay at Cannes’ Cinefondation in 2017. A well-known contemporary artist, Monnet has shed light on Indigenous identity and has debunked stereotypes through her works, which have been shown at the Whitney Biennial in New York, Palais [...]

  • Greed

    'Greed': Film Review

    I’ve got this friend who makes his own clothes. Not the generic kind cut from dowdy prairie-dress patterns, but chic, design-it-yourself garments that look better than most anything you’d find on a ready-to-wear rack. I figure he’s the only person I know who’s not guilty of contributing to the kind of sweatshop misery writer-director Michael [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content