Santa Monica, CA – January 9, 2019 – John Lasseter has been named Head of Skydance Animation, it was announced today by David Ellison, Chief Executive Officer, Skydance Media.
Lasseter, who will report directly to Ellison, will be based in Los Angeles and start later this month.
“John is a singular creative and executive talent whose impact on the animation industry cannot be overstated,” said Ellison. “He was responsible for leading animation into the digital age, while telling incomparable stories that continue to inspire and entertain audiences around the globe.”
Ellison continued: “And yet we did not enter into this decision lightly. John has acknowledged and apologized for his mistakes and, during the past year away from the workplace, has endeavored to address and reform them.”
“We look forward to John bringing all of his creative talents, his experience managing large franchises, his renewed understanding of the responsibilities of leadership and his exuberance to Skydance as we continue to expand our animation efforts for the global marketplace.”
Lasseter said: “I’m grateful to David and the Skydance team and know that I have been entrusted with an enormous responsibility. It is a distinct privilege that I will relish.”
“I have spent the last year away from the industry in deep reflection, learning how my actions unintentionally made colleagues uncomfortable, which I deeply regret and apologize for. It has been humbling, but I believe it will make me a better leader.”
Lasseter continued: “I want nothing more than the opportunity to return to my creative and entrepreneurial roots, to build and invent again. I join Skydance with the same enthusiasm that drove me to help build Pixar, with a firm desire to tell original and diverse stories for audiences everywhere. With what I have learned and how I have grown in the past year, I am resolute in my commitment to build an animation studio upon a foundation of quality, safety, trust and mutual respect.”
In his new role, Lasseter will be responsible for setting the overall strategy and creative direction for Skydance Animation. He will drive the division’s artistic growth, overseeing production and operations, to ensure a robust slate of animated entertainment across all media.
Established in 2017, Skydance Animation has embarked on a multi-year partnership with Ilion Animation Studios, a dedicated CGI feature animation studio based in Madrid, to develop and produce a slate of high-end animated feature films and television series. Its first two animated feature-length films have been announced: Luck, directed by Alessandro Carloni and written by Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger and an Untitled Action Fantasy, directed by Vicky Jenson and written by Linda Woolverton.
About John Lasseter
Lasseter is the former Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and Principal Creative Advisor, Walt Disney Imagineering. In that role, he maintained creative oversight of all films and associated projects from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios and Disneytoon Studios.
Lasseter made his directorial debut in 1995 with Toy Story, the world’s first feature-length computer-animated film, for which he received a Special Achievement Academy Award® recognizing his inspired leadership of the filmmaking team. He and the rest of Toy Story’s screenwriting team earned an Academy Award® nomination for best original screenplay, marking the first time an animated feature had ever been recognized in that category.
Lasseter also directed A Bug’s Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), Cars (2006) and Cars 2 (2011). Lasseter executive produced all Pixar features since Monsters, Inc. (2001), including the studio’s eight Academy Award®-winners Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Ratatouille (2007), WALL•E (2008), Up (2009), Toy Story 3 (2010), Brave (2012), and Inside Out (2015), as well as films The Good Dinosaur (2015), Finding Dory (2016), Cars 3 (2017), Coco (2017), and Incredibles 2 (2018).
To date, Pixar’s films have earned more than $11 billion in gross box-office receipts. Lasseter was the executive producer of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Academy Award®-winning feature Frozen (2013), which also won an Academy Award® for best original song (Let It Go). The film, which crossed the $1 billion mark in March 2014, is the number one animated feature of all time.
After assuming creative oversight of Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2006, Lasseter served as executive producer on all of its feature films, including Bolt (2008); The Princess and the Frog (2009); Tangled (2010); Winnie the Pooh (2011); Wreck-It Ralph (2012); Big Hero 6 (2015); Academy Award® -winning Zootopia (2016); Moana (2016), which was nominated for two Academy Awards®, and Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018). He also served as executive producer for Disneytoon Studios’ films.
Lasseter wrote, directed and animated Pixar’s first short films, including Luxo Jr., Red’s Dream, Tin Toy, and Knick Knack. Luxo Jr. was the first three-dimensional computer-animated film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award® when it was nominated for best animated short film in 1986; Tin Toy was the first three-dimensional computer-animated film ever to win an Academy Award® when it was named best animated short film in 1988.
Lasseter executive produced all of the studio’s subsequent shorts, including the Academy Award®-winning shorts Geri’s Game (1997) and For the Birds (2000), recent shorts La Luna (2011), The Blue Umbrella (2013), Lava (2105), Sanjay’s Super Team (2016), and the Academy Award®-wining Piper, which opened in front of Finding Dory (2016).
He also served as executive producer for Walt Disney Animation Studios shorts, including the Academy Award®-winning shorts Paperman (2012) and Feast (2014), as well as Get A Horse! (2013), and Frozen Fever, which recently debuted in front of Cinderella (2015).
In his role as principal creative advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering, Lasseter was instrumental in bringing the beloved characters and settings of Radiator Springs to life for Disneyland Resort guests with the successful 2012 launch of Cars Land, a massive 12-acre expansion of Disney California Adventure Park.
In 2009, Lasseter and the directors of Pixar were honored at the 66th Venice International Film Festival with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. The following year, Lasseter became the first producer of animated films ever to receive the Producers Guild of America’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Motion Pictures. Lasseter’s other recognitions include the 2004 outstanding contribution to cinematic imagery award from the Art Directors Guild, an honorary degree from the American Film Institute, and the 2008 Winsor McCay Award from ASIFA- Hollywood for career achievement and contribution to the art of animation.
Prior to the formation of Pixar in 1986, Lasseter was a member of the computer division of Lucasfilm Ltd., where he designed and animated The Adventures of André and Wally B., the first-ever piece of character-based three-dimensional computer animation, and the computer-generated Stained Glass Knight character in the 1985 Steven Spielberg-produced film Young Sherlock Holmes.
Lasseter was part of the inaugural class of the character animation program at California Institute of the Arts and received his B.F.A. in film in 1979. He is the only two-time winner of the Student Academy Award for Animation, for his CalArts student films Lady and the Lamp (1979) and Nitemare (1980). His very first award came at the age of five, when he won $15 from the Model Grocery Market in Whittier, Calif., for a crayon drawing of the Headless Horseman.
About Skydance Media
Skydance is a diversified media company founded by David Ellison in 2010 to create high-quality, event-level entertainment for global audiences. The Company brings to life stories with immersive worlds across its feature film, television, interactive and animation divisions. Recent feature films include Mission: Impossible–Fallout and Annihilation. Skydance’s upcoming feature films include 6 Underground, Gemini Man, the Untitled Terminator project and Top Gun: Maverick. Skydance Television launched in 2013, and its current slate includes two Emmy-nominated series, Grace and Frankie and Altered Carbon, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Condor and Foundation. Skydance Interactive launched in 2016 to create and publish original and IP-based virtual reality video games; their library includes the mech-shooter game Archangel: Hellfire and the upcoming 2019 title The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners. In 2017, Skydance formed an animation division to develop and produce a slate of high-end feature films and television series in partnership with Spain’s Ilion Animation Studios.
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