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Disney says Pixar's Lasseter to leave company by year-end in wake of #MeToo

Lasseter was accused of unwanted touching and inappropriate remarks, behavior that went on for years

Christopher Palmeri | Bloomberg 

John Lasseter
John Lasseter

John Lasseter, the Walt animation executive who took a sabbatical in November following allegations of inappropriate behaviour, will leave the company for good at the end of the year.

Lasseter, who spearheaded hits from Toy Story to Frozen, will have a consulting role until that time, said Friday in an email. He was accused of inappropriate behavior and said in an apology last year he may have gone too far in some interactions with staffers.

“John had a remarkable tenure at and Animation, reinventing the animation business, taking breathtaking risks, and telling original, high quality stories that will last forever,” Disney Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger said in a statement.

Under Lasseter’s direction, Disney regained its vigor in animation, at the box office and in awards, creating characters that were marketed successfully on everything from theme-park rides to lunch boxes. films have generated almost $12 billion in global ticket sales.

Disney didn’t name a successor. A person familiar with the company’s thinking said Jennifer Lee, who shared a best animated feature Oscar for Frozen, is expected to lead Disney’s namesake animation studio, while Pete Docter, who picked up Oscars for Inside Out and Up, would get a similar role at

Lasseter, 61, served as chief creative officer at both of the company’s animation studios. In his new position, he’ll consult with staffers, but won’t have an office at the company. “I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges,” he said in the statement.

Lasseter was accused of unwanted touching and inappropriate remarks, behavior that went on for years, but got new scrutiny in the wake of allegations leveled at other Hollywood producers and stars.

The accusations put Disney in a difficult position. The executive was a beloved figure for having helped create such memorable characters as Lightning McQueen from Cars and Nemo from Finding Nemo. The company sold Hawaiian shirts based on Lasseter’s trademark attire and parks featured wines from his private vineyard.

Lasseter grew up in Southern California, attended the Disney-family-supported California Institute of the Arts and even worked as a skipper on the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland. In 1984 he joined the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm.

That business was renamed Pixar and acquired by Apple’s Steve Jobs.

At Pixar, Lasseter developed the first feature-length, computer-generated film, Toy Story, an instant hit on its release in 1995. The success of that movie and follow-ups such as Monsters, Inc. and The Incredibles, prompted Disney’s newly installed CEO Iger to buy Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006. He put Lasseter and Pixar co-founder Ed Catamull in charge of Disney’s entire animation business, including the original business begun in 1923.

First Published: Sat, June 09 2018. 23:13 IST