Lee Unkrich leaving Pixar

Lee Unkrich, who directed Toy Story 3 and Coco, and worked on Monsters, Inc.Finding Nemo, and more, is parting ways with Pixar after 25 years. Unkrich has been with the studio since they started working on their first feature film, Toy Story. His departure surely signifies a major shift behind-the-scenes at Pixar. More on Lee Unkrich leaving Pixar below.

Lee Unkrich is saying goodbye with Pixar. THR broke the news, providing the following statement from Unkrich:

“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-burner.”

Unkrich worked as a TV editor and director before joining Pixar in 1994. After that, he had a hand in several major releases from the studio. He worked as an editor on both Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. He took on editing duties and co-directed Toy Story 2Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo. Other editing credits include Cars and Ratatouille. His solo Pixar directorial credits are Toy Story 3 and Coco, both of which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Unkrich leaves Pixar in the wake of the departure of Pixar co-founder John Lasseter. Lasseter exited the studio in the wake of unspecified sexual harassment allegations. Lasseter was recently hired to lead Skydance Animation. Both of these departures signal a sea change at Pixar. Following the announcement of Unkrich’s retirement, his colleagues had nothing but great things to say about the filmmaker.

“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,” said Pete Docter, who took over as Pixar’s chief creative officer after Lasseter left. “His artistry and expert craftsmanship as an editor and co-director became a major reason for the high quality of our filmmaking, and as Lee went on to direct, his ability to find the deep humor and emotion enabled him to create some of the strongest films we’ve made.”

“Lee has left an indelible mark on the world of film,” added Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn, “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.”

Here’s a video of Unkrich perusing the famous Criterion Collection closet, in which he speaks about his career while praising some of his favorite films.

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