Pixar filmmaker Lee Unkrich is leaving the animation studios he helped build. On Friday Unkrich made the announcement to Pixar employees the Hollywood Reporter shared.
Unkrich came to Pixar Animation Studios 25 years ago as work was being done on the original Toy Story. Since then, he has continued to be an influential force at the studio. Some of his best known contributions come include directing Coco and also Toy Story 3.
“Lee arrived at Pixar as we were crafting Toy Story, and he’s had a profound effect on all Pixar films since. He literally taught us rookie filmmakers about staging, composition, and cutting,” said Docter, who directed Monsters Inc and became Pixar’s chief creative officer after Lasseter’s exit. “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.”
“If you look at the sweep of contemporary cinema, it would be difficult to find someone more brilliant in the filmmaking arts than Lee Unkrich,” said Pixar president Jim Morris. “He has been a key player in elevating virtually every one of Pixar’s films.”
Chairman of Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn also praised Unkrich saying, “Lee has left an indelible mark on the world of film, and we are so grateful for the passion and talent he has brought to each movie he has worked on. He’ll always be part of the Disney-Pixar family, and we will miss him.”
Unkrich is not leaving to pursue another position in the industry. Instead he is taking time to focus on things that had been put on the back burner due to his career. His departure will continue a recent trend of changes happening at Pixar Animation Studios. His mentor, John Lasseter left and has taken a new position as head of Skydance Animation. At Pixar, Pete Doctor has taken on the role of Chief Creative Officer and Pixar co-founder and President of Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Studios Ed Catmull is in the process of retiring.
Pixar Animation Studios will be releasing Toy Story 4 this year, for which Unkrich helped with the story. Moving forward Pixar will be continuing into a new era of storytelling.
What do you think of Lee Unkrich’s departure from Pixar? How do you think it will effect the future of Pixar? Share your thoughts in the comments below!