Pixar's John Lasseter is the latest in a long line of entertainment executives who is stepping away from his job due to apparent misconduct. However, that leaves a hole at the top of a very important company. While Lasseter is only expected to take a six-month leave of absence, who will be running things at Pixar for the next six months? According to some rumors within Pixar, it appears that longtime Pixar vet Pete Docter will be the one taking over during Lasseter's absence.
Yesterday, it was revealed that John Lasseter would be taking a self-imposed leave of absence following what he characterized as "missteps" in regards to his behavior around some female employees. However, that leaves Pixar and Walt Disney Animation without a chief creative officer for at least that long, assuming that Lasseter returns to the job without incident next year. While no official replacement has been named, Vanity Fair reports that the rumor around Pixar is that Pete Docter will taking over Lasseter's responsibilities.
What's unclear is whether Pete Docter will be taking over all of John Lasseter's job, or just his responsibilities within Pixar. Lasseter was essentially in charge of everything involving animation within the entire Disney organization, leading to an era of impressive success within both the Disney and Pixar divisions of the company. It was a lot for one man to do, which means it's a lot for one man to take on.
Having said that, Pete Docter is certainly a solid choice if he going to be the interim creative head of Pixar. As much as John Lasseter has been given credit for the unprecedented success the company has seen over the last few years, the fact is that Pete Docter has been part of a lot of that success himself. He was a member of Pixar's original Brain Trust, alongside John Lasseter and other Pixar vets like Andrew Stanton. He directed Up, Inside Out and Monsters Inc. and was involved in writing numerous other Pixar classics like Wall-E and the first two Toy Story films. He's also credited as one of the story writers for the upcoming Toy Story 4.
Pete Docter's primary focus over the next six months will likely be grooming Incredibles 2 for release. The film is set to hit theaters in July, a couple months after John Lasseter returns, assuming he does so on time. Pixar's Coco hit theaters today, and Walt Disney Animation doesn't have a movie set for release until next November, with Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.
The next six months will no doubt be an interesting period for Disney without John Lasseter, though, if he does return, the more interesting period could actually be what comes after.