Pixar is one of the most storied, beloved and revered studios in film and its influence on the industry, particularly animation, cannot be understated. One of the people responsible for Pixar's success and someone you may not have heard of is Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull. At Pixar, he's been a fixture since the beginning and now an era of Pixar is coming to an end. Ed Catmull has announced his retirement.
Ed Catmull is currently the president of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He will step down from those roles at the end of 2018, ending a 40+ year career in the industry. Ed Catmull will stay on as an advisor through July 2019 after which he will retire completely, according to a Disney announcement (via THR).
Disney will not replace Ed Catmull with another president for both animation studios. Instead, Pixar president Jim Morris and Walt Disney Animation Studios president Andrew Millstein will continue in their respective roles, reporting to Walt Disney Studios president Alan Bergman.
Although he lacks the name recognition of some of his contemporaries, Ed Catmull's impact and contributions to the industry are immense. Possessing a doctorate in computer technology, Ed Catmull was hired by George Lucas in 1979 to head up Lucasfilm's computer division. He later helped convince Steve Jobs to purchase Lucasfilm's computer division. Along with Jobs and John Lasseter, they founded Pixar together in 1986.
Ed Catmull helped develop the technology that has allowed companies like Disney, Pixar and Lucasfilm to realize their stories onscreen. He is the architect of the RenderMan rendering software used by Pixar and throughout the film industry for animation and VFX. His work on this technology earned him a Scientific and Technical award from the Academy, one of five, including the Gordon E. Sawyer Award.
When Disney purchased Pixar, Ed Catmull was named president of the two animation studios and he oversaw the business side of things while John Lasseter oversaw creative until he stepped down this summer and was replaced by Pete Docter at Pixar and Jennifer Lee at Walt Disney Animation studios. During his time as president Ed Catmull was involved in numerous hits for both studios, including Frozen, Toy Story 3 and Incredibles 2.
Although Ed Catmull is leaving, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios will roll on. Next up for Disney Animation is Ralph Breaks the Internet, in theaters on November 21st. Next year Pixar returns to the franchise that started it all, and one that Ed Catmull had a hand in, with Toy Story 4 on June 21, 2019.
Check out all of the biggest movies hitting theaters next year in our 2019 release schedule.