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Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter promoted at Disney and Pixar (1 Viewer)

Jake Lipson

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You are 100% correct. My computer autocorrected it. Fixed now.

These promotions make sense to me -- they're both talented storytellers who will do well leading the creative charge --but the only thing Lasseter was able to direct while he was in charge was Cars 2, which obviously suffered from his attention being split.

While I'm glad of their promotions, I hope this doesn't mean we're done seeing Pete Docter and Jennifer Lee directing movies, and good ones.

Lee is already deep into co-diredcting Frozen 2 with Chris Buck, which is coming out in November 2019. Obviously she'll finish that. Docter hasn't officially announced a new project since Inside Out, although I suspect he has been working on something. I just hope they can find a way to manage their respective studios and still direct too. It would be a real loss to cinema if they didn't.
 
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DaveB

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I get the Docter promotion, but I'm kind of scratching my head over Lee. I know she was a writer on Wreck-it-Ralph, co-directed megahit Frozen, and then was the lead writer on A Wrinkle in Time. That's a pretty good start on a résumé (Frozen in particular), but it doesn't exactly scream studio head for Walt Disney Animation. I'm guessing she was primarily selected for qualities such as leadership/management style, sharing likeminded sensibilities with other Disney executives, etc.

At any rate, good luck to these two as they will be expected to maintain the success of Lasseter's lucrative tenure, as well as carry the legacy of the Disney name.
 

Johnny Angell

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but the only thing Lasseter was able to direct while he was in charge was Cars 2, which obviously suffered from his attention being split.
At first I thought you were telling me that Lassiter had directed only one Pixar movie. I think what you are saying is once he was charge of all Disney animation, he only directed Cars 2. Did I get that right?
 

Jake Lipson

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I think what you are saying is once he was charge of all Disney animation, he only directed Cars 2. Did I get that right?

Yes. Disney acquired Pixar in 2006, at which time Lasseter got the chief creative job for both studios that will now be handled separately by Pete Docter (for Pixar) and Jennifer Lee (for Disney.) Lasseter's previous films, Toy Story (1995), A Bug's Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999) and the first Cars (which was delayed to 2006 to be a summer release, but was completed on time for its initial release date of November 2005) were all completed before Lasseter took the executive job.

He was also announced as the director of Toy Story 4, but eventually left that job (several months prior to his recent sabbatical.) Josh Cooley, who had been announced as a co-director under Lasseter, is now directing Toy Story 4 solo.

It appears that the time commitment to his various executive duties prevented Lasseter from being more productive as a director, as Cars 2 is the only movie in his filmography that he directed while being an executive too, and that one was bad. I'm hoping that, even though Docter and Lee are going to be overseeing the whole operation, they'll still also find a way to continue to direct if they want to. Especially Docter, who has directed three of my all-time favorite movies and is particularly skilled at fantastic worldbuilding, it would just be a shame if Inside Out ends up being his final movie because he's too busy running the studio to continue to direct. His promotion is great news, but just selfishly, I want to see more movies by him too.

Because they are each taking over only one studio, rather than having one person oversee both, maybe that will help them be able to include directing on their plate when they want to.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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I get the Docter promotion, but I'm kind of scratching my head over Lee. I know she was a writer on Wreck-it-Ralph, co-directed megahit Frozen, and then was the lead writer on A Wrinkle in Time. That's a pretty good start on a résumé (Frozen in particular), but it doesn't exactly scream studio head for Walt Disney Animation. I'm guessing she was primarily selected for qualities such as leadership/management style, sharing likeminded sensibilities with other Disney executives, etc.
Frozen is the highest grossing Disney animated film not made by Pixar. I think there was also a sense that, given the nature of Lasseter's departure, they couldn't draw from the same old boy's club for both leadership positions.

I don't know that I see her or Docter sticking in this role for the length of time Lasseter did. They're storytellers, first and foremost, and at some point I'd think they'll want to get back to telling their own stories.
 

Jake Lipson

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I don't know that I see her or Docter sticking in this role for the length of time Lasseter did. They're storytellers, first and foremost, and at some point I'd think they'll want to get back to telling their own stories.

That's what I'm getting at above. If Disney wants to keep them in these positions, they'll have to figure out a way to let them lead AND direct/write at the same time, which will be a tough balancing act.

I just really hope Inside Out isn't the final ever Pete Docter film. If it is, what a great way to go out, but it shouldn't have to be a binary choice between running the company and directing a movie. They're going to need some really good lieutenants to which they can delegate.
 

Jake Lipson

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I thought Frozen was the highest grossing animated film, ever.

Depends on what chart you look at. Worldwide, you're correct. Frozen is at $1,276.5 billion, which places it #12 overall and #1 for animation. Domestically, it's a different story. In the U.S., Frozen made $400 million, which is behind Finding Dory ($486m, #12), Shrek 2 ($441m, #17), The Lion King ($422.7m cumulative gross from all three of its releases, #21) and Toy Story 3 ($415m, #22.) Frozen is #31 on this chart. And, of course, none of these figures are adjusted for inflation.

For the record, on the inflation-adjusted U.S. chart, the #1 animated film of all time is still Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which ranks #10 overall with $998,440,000. Frozen is #111 on the adjusted chart with $449.2m as of today.

Edit: I see Malcom beat me to the same point while I was typing this.
 

Jake Lipson

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The Lion King is the domestic champ.

It is, but I'm not sure if its directors still work for Disney or not. Jennifer Lee made sense to promote because she is firmly entrenched in that company right now anyway and knows everyone and is presumably well-liked around there. Plus, as Adam noted, it makes a point to have a woman in a leadership position over there, especially given the reasons for Lasseter's exit. (And worldwide, Johnny is correct that it's Frozen.)
 

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