We’ve been waiting almost six months for confirmation of whether John Lasseter will be let go or make an official return to The Walt Disney Co., and according to a source, Disney is considering bringing him back in a lessened role than he had previously. He’d have less responsibilities, as far as managing goes, but still have creative influence with the animators. Before his leave, he was an integral part of moving forward with films, as his approval was needed for every aspect. According to The Wall Street Journal, it is possible that we’ll pass the six month mark without a solid decision, but one will be made soon.
We broke the story of Lasseter leaving back in November, and as we approach six months of him being on leave, the studio has performed well without him at the head. He left right before the release of Coco, and may not make an official return before Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, both highly anticipated films, take their spots in the summer theater line-up.
Toy Story 4 is scheduled to release in 2019, a fourth part of the mega Toy Story film franchise in which Lasseter had a major hand. In his absence, the director behind Finding Dory and Wall-E, Andrew Stanton, has taken lead for the upcoming film. Another project currently moving forward without his input is Frozen 2, which also has a release date in 2019. If Lasseter were to return, the question remains whether he’ll have any creative input on the these films, or if he’ll be “the man behind the curtain”, keeping a low profile as the two high-profile films move forward.
Lasseter was put on a six-month sabbatical in light of the #MeToo movement after female employees came forward with allegations that Lasseter had touched and hugged them without their consent. One longtime Pixar employee says Lasseter, who is well-known for hugging employees and others in the entertainment community, was also known by insiders for “grabbing, kissing, [and] making comments about physical attributes.” Multiple sources say Lasseter is known to drink heavily at company social events such as premiere parties, but this source says the behavior was not always confined to such settings.
During his leave of absence, Lasseter has retained the titles of Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, as well as Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering.
SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal