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John Lasseter Named Head of Skydance Animation After Disney Exit Over Misconduct Accusations

Lasseter left his post at Disney at the end of 2018

Former Pixar CCO John Lasseter has been named Head of Skydance Animation after his exit from Disney following misconduct accusations.

He will report directly to Skydance CEO David Ellison and will start later this month. Skydance is just getting into animation, and gambled that the Oscar winner’s immense talent was worth the potential fallout of hiring a man who lost his Disney role over accusations of inappropriate workplace behavior.

“John is a singular creative and executive talent whose impact on the animation industry cannot be overstated,” Ellison said in a statement. “He was responsible for leading animation into the digital age, while telling incomparable stories that continue to inspire and entertain audiences around the globe.”

Ellison added: “And yet we did not enter into this decision lightly. John has acknowledged and apologized for his mistakes and, during the past year away from the workplace, has endeavored to address and reform them.”

Lasseter exited Disney in December 2017 after announcing a sabbatical in November 2017 because of a Hollywood Reporter story in which “former Pixar insiders” said he frequently made a habit of “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes” of women at the company.

Lasseter said his leave of absence would provide an opportunity for him to take “better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.” But in Disney’s statement announcing his departure, Lasseter said that he has “decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges.”

In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that Disney executives were considering allowing Lasseter to return in a new role with less managerial power and no authority over hiring and firing, but full creative influence over the studio’s considerable animated projects.

Best known as one of the founders of Pixar, Lasseter directed “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 2,” “Cars” and “Cars 2.” After Disney purchased Pixar in 2006, Lasseter was named chief creative officer overseeing both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, where he served as executive producer on all of the media giant’s animated films and projects.

Lasseter has won two Academy Awards — one for Best Animated Short Film (“Tin Toy”) and one Special Achievement Award for “Toy Story.” Pixar itself has won eight Academy Awards and the films have grossed over $6 billion at the box office, domestically.

“I’m grateful to David and the Skydance team and know that I have been entrusted with an enormous responsibility,” Lasseter said in a statement. “It is a distinct privilege that I will relish.”

Currently, Skydance’s animation division has four projects in development, with only one having a solid release date. Alessandro Carloni’s “Luck” will open March 19, 2021, while Vicky Jenson’s “Split,” Nathan Greno’s “Powerless” and “The Fourteenth Goldfish” are also in development.