In a strange and shocking move, former Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios head John Lasseter is setting up shop at Skydance Animation. The announcement was made today that Lasseter has been named head of Skydance Animation and will report directly to Skydance CEO David Ellison. The production company launched in 2010 and has mainly been focused on blockbusters, producing the big screen Mission: Impossible and Star Trek franchises as well as one-offs like Geostorm and Baywatch. Skydance also famously won the rights to the Terminator series and tried to relaunch that franchise with 2015’s Terminator Genisys, but the film faltered at the box office. They’re trying again with a new reboot directed by Tim Miller.
Lasseter, of course, helped turn Pixar into a powerhouse animation studio as director of Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, and Toy Story 2, going on to oversee operations as Pixar became a dominating force in the animation industry. When Disney bought Pixar, Lasseter was appointed head of Walt Disney Animation Studios and oversaw a resurgence of quality over there with films like Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.
But last year, awful reports of alleged sexual harassment arose, claiming that Lasseter had a history of harassment and misconduct throughout his tenure at Pixar and Disney. While Disney never formally admonished Lasseter, the studio put him on a six-month leave of absence, after which it was announced that he would be “retiring” at the end of 2018.
Now that the new year has begun, Lasseter is formally out of Pixar and Disney, with Pete Docter and Jennifer Lee taking on lead roles at the two animation studios, respectively. Variety reports that Lasseter had been “trying to drum up interest” at various other studios over the last few months, meeting with players like Warner Bros. Many major studios were wary of partnering with Lasseter given the allegations, but it was apparently no cause for concern at Skydance.
Skydance only just launched its animation studio in 2017 so it appears Lasseter will be somewhat building his studio from the ground up. The company has the aforementioned Terminator film, Ang Lee’s Gemini Man, and Michael Bay’s Netflix movie Six Underground set for release in 2019, followed by Top Gun and World War Z sequels in the near future.