Lee Unkrich, Director of ‘Coco’ and ‘Toy Story 3,’ to Leave Pixar After 25 Years

“I’m not leaving to make films at another studio; instead, I look forward to spending much-needed time with my family,” Oscar-winning director says

Last Updated: January 18, 2019 @ 3:37 PM

Lee Unkrich, a two-time Oscar winner and director for Pixar, is leaving the animation studio after 25 years, he announced on Twitter Friday.

“After twenty-five incredible years, I’ve decided to leave Pixar,” the director tweeted. “The time has come for new adventures.”

Unkrich, who directed “Toy Story 3” and “Coco,” is a longtime editor at Pixar, dating back to its early days and to the first “Toy Story” film. He also served as a co-director “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Finding Nemo.”

“I’m not leaving to make films at another studio; instead, I look forward to spending much-needed time with my family and pursuing interests that have long been back-burnered,” Unkrich said in a statement obtained by TheWrap.

Pixar’s Pete Docter, who directed “Monsters, Inc.,” “Up” and “Inside Out,” praised his colleague upon notice of his departure.

“Lee arrived at Pixar as we were crafting ‘Toy Story,’ and he’s had a profound effect on all Pixar films since,” Docter said in a statement. “He literally taught us rookie filmmakers about staging, composition, and cutting.  His artistry and expert craftsmanship as an editor and co-director became a major reason for the high quality of our filmmaking, and as Lee went on to direct, his ability to find the deep humor and emotion enabled him to create some of the strongest films we’ve made.  He will be sorely missed — but we are enormously grateful for his tireless dedication to quality, and his ability to touch the hearts of audiences around the world.”

Unkrich’s exit comes amid shakeups at Pixar, with former chief John Lasseter leaving in Dec. 2017 amid sexual misconduct accusations, and President Ed Catmull retiring at the end of 2018. Lasseter was recently hired as head of Skydance Animation.

THR was first to report.