Disney/Pixar Animation President Ed Catmull to Retire at End of 2018

Catmull, who co-founded Pixar in 1986, is regarded as one of the godfathers of computer animation

Ed Catmull Disney Pixar
President Ed Catmull is photographed on February 12, 2016 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Ed Catmull, President of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, will retire after 40 years in the industry at the end of 2018, Disney announced on Tuesday.

Pixar President Jim Morris and Walt Disney Animation Studios President Andrew Millstein will continue to oversee operations of their respective studios, reporting to Walt Disney Studios President Alan Bergman. Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios will continue to be creatively led by Chief Creative Officers Pete Docter and Jennifer Lee, respectively, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.

Catmull, 73, will remain on in an advisory role through July 2019.

Catmull’s career began in 1979 at Lucasfilm, when he was hired by George Lucas to oversee the studio’s nascent computer division. Seven years later, Catmull co-founded Pixar Animation Studios with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter and has been with the studio as it has released 20 feature films that have grossed $13 billion worldwide. After Pixar’s acquisition by Disney in 2006, Catmull also became president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, overseeing the release of several more billion-dollar hits including “Frozen” and “Zootopia.”

“Never in my wildest imagination could I have conceived of the path or the extraordinary people I have worked with over all of these years – the twists and turns, the ups and downs, along with exhilarating passion, talent, and dedication that have led to something extraordinary, something that has an enduring impact in the world,” said Catmull.

“From the request of George Lucas to bring technology to the film industry, to the vision of Steve Jobs, and the extraordinary freedom provided by Bob Iger, Alan Horn, and Alan Bergman, we continue to dream of stories and ways of making those stories that always surprise. I have the mixed emotions that come with stepping away from a group of people I love, but also with the utmost pride and pleasure that we now have at both Pixar and Disney Animation the most dedicated and imaginative leaders I have worked with.”

“Ed Catmull’s impact on the entertainment industry is immeasurable,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. “A pioneer of the intersection of creativity and technology, Ed expanded the possibilities for storytellers along with the expectations of audiences.”

“We’re profoundly grateful for his innumerable contributions, ranging from his pivotal, groundbreaking work at Lucasfilm and Pixar to the exceptional leadership he brought to Pixar and Walt Disney Animation over the last 12 years, and we wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.”