Lost in the hubbub of Tuesday’s digital deployment of Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles 2, the president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, Ed Catmull, announced he will step down from his current roles at the end of this year and stay on as an adviser through July 2019.
“Never in my wildest imagination could I have conceived of the path or the extraordinary people I have worked with over all of these years — the twists and turns, the ups and downs, along with exhilarating passion, talent, and dedication that have led to something extraordinary, something that has an enduring impact in the world,” Catmull, 73, said in a statement reported by The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit and Gregg Kilday.
Catmull, who earned a doctorate in computer technology from the University of Utah, was hired by George Lucas in 1979 to lead Lucasfilm’s computer division before then going on to co-found Pixar with Jobs and Lasseter in 1986. In 1995, Pixar released Toy Story, the first computer-animated hit, the first of 20 Pixar features, which have collectively won 15 Academy Awards and earned more than $13 million at the worldwide box office.
When Disney, which had been releasing Pixar films, acquired the studio for $7.4 billion in 2006, Catmull was named president of both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, overseeing the business side of the operations, while Lasseter oversaw the films as chief creative officer until he stepped down this summer…
“From the request of George Lucas to bring technology to the film industry, to the vision of Steve Jobs, and the extraordinary freedom provided by [Disney executives] Bob Iger, Alan Horn, and Alan Bergman, we continue to dream of stories and ways of making those stories that always surprise,” said Catmull. “I have the mixed emotions that come with stepping away from a group of people I love, but also with the utmost pride and pleasure that we now have at both Pixar and Disney Animation the most dedicated and imaginative leaders I have worked with.”
Disney’s leadership thought similarly of Catmull.
“Ed Catmull’s impact on the entertainment industry is immeasurable,” said Disney chairman and CEO Iger as quoted by THR. “A pioneer of the intersection of creativity and technology, Ed expanded the possibilities for storytellers along with the expectations of audiences. We’re profoundly grateful for his innumerable contributions, ranging from his pivotal, groundbreaking work at Lucasfilm and Pixar to the exceptional leadership he brought to Pixar and Walt Disney Animation over the last 12 years, and we wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.”