A major change is happening at Pixar. Lee Unkrich, the longtime creative team member that directed films like Coco and Toy Story 2, has announced his departure from the animation studio. The news was shared in a simple tweet, reading, “After twenty-five incredible years, I’ve decided to leave Pixar. The time has come for new adventures.”
While he doesn’t specify what those adventures are, it seems his plan is not to jump to another studio. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Unkrich explained, “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.”
He leaves the company with no further projects in the pipeline, though he is one of those responsible for the story of the upcoming Toy Story 4. His departure comes at an interesting time for Pixar, shortly after the news that former boss John Lasseter–who was ousted from the company in 2018 after allegations of sexual misconduct–was named head of Skydance Animation.
Unkrich started at Pixar in 1994 as the company was working on the original Toy Story, a movie in which he served as editor. From there he was involved in a number of titles for the company, including co-directing Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo. His most recent film for the studio, Coco, won Oscars for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song at the 2018 Academy Awards.
Where Unkrich goes from here may be a mystery, but those at Disney and Pixar aren’t holding back their well-wishes for the animator. “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,” Pixar’s chief creative officer Pete Docter told THR. Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn added, “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.”