The LA Times has confirmed that Bob Peterson has been dropped as director of Pixar’s 2014 feature The Good Dinosaur. The news of Peterson’s dismissal was first revealed by Blue Sky Disney on Monday, August 26th.
This would mark the third time in Pixar’s last four films that a director has been replaced mid-production: the other times were in 2010 when Brenda Chapman was replaced by Mark Andrews on Brave, and Brad Lewis was also taken off Cars 2 and replaced by Lasseter himself.
The unsettling trend at Pixar began in the mid-2000s when Jan Pinkava was booted off Rataouille in favor of Brad Bird. Another publicly announced project, Newt, which was to have been directed by veteran Pixar sound designer Gary Rydstrom, was canned entirely. Lasseter’s fondness for directorial musical chairs extends to his creative leadership role at Disney Feature Animation where he yanked Chris Sanders from the director’s chair on Bolt.
Ed Catmull, who confirmed the news to the LA Times spun the story awkwardly, first by indicating that Peterson’s dismissal was due to his over-enthusiasm for his own project, and then by suggesting that live-action films should follow the Pixar model and replace their directors more often:
“All directors get really deep in their films. Sometimes you just need a different perspective to get the idea out. Sometimes directors … are so deeply embedded in their ideas it actually takes someone else to finish it up. I would go so far as to argue that a lot of live-action films would be better off with that same process.”
According to the Times, twenty-year Pixar veteran Peterson remains at the studio and is developing another project. However, if history is any guide, the other three replaced directors—Chapman, Lewis and Pinkava—ended up leaving Pixar after their demotions.
No new director has been named on The Good Dinosaur even though the film is due in theaters in nine months. Diffrent people at the studio are helping to guide the various parts of its production, including Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Mark Andrews and Peter Sohn, who was Good Dinosaur’ original co-director.
UPDATE (2:19am ET): Bob Peterson acknowledged the situation on Twitter tonight with positivity and good humor: