Oscar-winning Disney/Pixar executive John Lasseter is set to leave the studio at the end of the year in the wake of a six-month sabbatical due to allegations of misconduct. The exit of the animation veteran, responsible for writing and directing a number of Disney/Pixar's greatest successes, was announced Friday.
Lasseter will reportedly take on a consulting position at the company until his official leave at the end of 2018.
“John had a remarkable tenure at Pixar and Disney Animation, reinventing the animation business, taking breathtaking risks, and telling original, high quality stories that will last forever,” Disney CEO Bob Iger wrote in a statement. “We are profoundly grateful for his contributions, which included a masterful and remarkable turnaround of The Walt Disney Animation Studios. One of John’s greatest achievements is assembling a team of great storytellers and innovators with the vision and talent to set the standard in animation for generations to come.”
Remarking on his exit, Lasseter said, "The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities," adding, "While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney, I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges. I am extremely proud of what two of the most important and prolific animation studios have achieved under my leadership and I’m grateful for all of the opportunities to follow my creative passion at Disney.”
Lasseter was accused by several individuals of inappropriate behaviour, even admitting himself to giving “unwanted hugs” while hinting at actions that others “felt crossed the line.”
Commenting on the allegations last year, Lasseter said, “I have always wanted our animation studios to be places where creators can explore their vision with the support and collaboration of other gifted animators and storytellers...This kind of creative culture takes constant vigilance to maintain. It’s built on trust and respect, and it becomes fragile if any members of the team don’t feel valued. As a leader, it’s my responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen; and I now believe I have been falling short in this regard.”
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Lasseter became Chief Creative Officer of Disney’s feature animation studios in 2006, and the division has since seen a creative and commercial renaissance with hits ranging from Frozen and Moana. He’s also directed some of Pixar’s biggest hits over the years, including the first two Toy Story films, A Bug’s Life, and the first two Cars movies. Lasseter won his Oscar in 1989 for the animated short film Tin Toy. Where he will pursue future creative endeavors is currently unknown.