John Lasseter at the D23 Expo. Image: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney
Anyone who is a fan of the Toy Story films was sceptical when Pixar announced they were making number four. One of the things that made it digestible, though, was that John Lasseter himself, was directing. He did not just the first two films, but was the current head of both Pixar and Disney Animation.
Then, this weekend at the D23 Expo, he officially announced that he's stepping down, back into his now usual role at Executive Producer. Josh Cooley, previously announced as a co-director, is taking the helm. And at an international press conference immediately following the Pixar D23 panel, Lasseter explained the decision.
I always felt like I need to keep directing, and that's why I decided to do Toy Story 4 initially, but I oversee three studios and I think I counted 24 feature films I'm overseeing, and it was not really practical, to be blunt. But also what made it easy was Josh Cooley was amazing; wait until you see it — he is so good. And it was time to let go of the bike and let him ride, and he's doing a great job. It's really fantastic. And I do get creative satisfaction from being the executive producer, the chief creative officer, and helping all of these great filmmakers. So that's what made the decision for me, and I'm loving what I do. I have the best job in the world.
I mean, who can blame the guy? Directing an animated movie like this takes years of daily commitment, and to do it along with all his other jobs simultaneously seems kind of impossible. Plus, the third Toy Story was also directed by a first timer, and that turned out pretty well.
Toy Story 4 is currently schedule for release June 21, 2019.