‘Frozen’ and ‘Inside Out’ Directors to Succeed Lasseter at Disney and Pixar

‘Frozen’ and ‘Inside Out’ Directors to Succeed Lasseter at Disney and Pixar

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LOS ANGELES — Pete Docter is a 6-foot-5 Minnesotan who comes across like Tom Hanks in “Big” and lives in a literal tree house. Jennifer Lee is a 5-foot-3 Rhode Islander and self-described former “flute-playing band nerd” who loves books and is known for her showstopping laugh.

On Tuesday, they became two of the most important people in Hollywood.

As expected, the Walt Disney Company named Ms. Lee to lead its revered Walt Disney Animation Studios and Mr. Docter to lead its Pixar Animation Studios. Both were given the title of chief creative officer. They succeed John Lasseter, 61, who managed both animation studios until earlier this month, when he resigned following complaints about his workplace behavior.

Mr. Docter, 49, is a 28-year Pixar veteran who directed three of its most successful films — “Up,” “Inside Out” and “Monsters, Inc.” — and helped write the screenplays for “Toy Story” and “Wall-E.” He has won two Academy Awards.

Ms. Lee, 46, only got her start in animation in 2012, when she co-wrote the screenplay for “Wreck-It Ralph.” But the following year, she directed, with Chris Buck, the musical sensation “Frozen,” and won an Oscar. She also helped write “Zootopia” and “A Wrinkle in Time” and played a critical role in bringing “Frozen” to Broadway.

The ascensions of Ms. Lee and Mr. Docter represent a generational changing of the guard in animation, a genre that Disney dominates — most recently releasing “Incredibles 2,” a Pixar sequel that arrived to a record-breaking $182.7 million in ticket sales. In a statement, Alan Horn, Disney’s film chairman, praised Mr. Docter as a “genius creative force” and said Ms. Lee brought “bold vision” and “a new and exciting perspective.”

A woman has never led Disney’s animation studio, which developed the art form into mass entertainment in the 1930s and ’40s. Ms. Lee emphasized the collaborative nature of animation on Tuesday, saying in a statement, “My hope is to support the incredible talent we have, find new voices and work together to tell original stories.”

Mr. Docter also emphasized originality. “Together we will keep pushing animation in new directions,” he said.

Mr. Docter and Ms. Lee inherit a strong pipeline of films. “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2” will arrive in November from the studio Ms. Lee is taking over and “Frozen 2” will come next year, along with Pixar’s “Toy Story 4.” The studios have three films in the works for 2020 — two of them originals — and at least one for 2021.

(Original source)

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