The blowback to Skydance Animation’s hiring of John Lasseter continued today as another party has cut ties with the young animation studio. It comes just one day after a report that actress Emma Thompson had quit Skydance Animation’s first film.
This time it’s Lightbox Expo, a new creative event launching this September in Pasadena, California. The organization cancelled a sponsorship deal this morning with Skydance Animation, following social media outrage over their deal.
The expo first announced the sponsorship deal with Skydance last Friday in a now-deleted tweet:
As news about the deal filtered out on Twitter over the last few days, numerous animation industry artists reacted strongly to the expo’s partnership with Lasseter-led Skydance Animation, and some artists expressed reservations about attending the event. This led the expo to reverse course and announce that it would no longer work with Skydance.
“LightBox Expo values how the art community feels,” two of the event’s organizers, Shiuan and Nancy [last names not identified], tweeted out. “We’ll be politely declining Skydance Media’s sponsorship. The team behind LBX are all women (except Jim [Demonakos] and Bobby [Chiu]), and we are extra concerned about keeping the right positive energy surrounding the event.” The organizers added in another tweet, “We want to create an event that’s beneficial to the art community & everyone involved. We will be declining our sponsorship and will no longer be working with Skydance.”
Dozens of artists have since applauded the expo and its decision to cut ties with Skydance Animation:
I hope this sets an example to other events and studios in the future. We need to cut off abusers and harassers and all report everyone that supports them in order to create a more positive, inclusive and safe industry. Thank you @LightBoxExpo <3 https://t.co/PyQ9C26GSr
— Lara Pickle 🥨 (@Larapic) February 20, 2019
Thank you for listening to the community and putting the community first!! This is great news to hear!
— leah artwick (@itsleahelaine) February 20, 2019
👏🏻👏🏻 THANK YOU for making this choice and stepping on the side of the concerned creatives/artists. I’m sure you will be offered various other sponsorship deals from loving, respectable and inclusive studios/companies in due course. Best of wishes.
— Domareen Fox (@DommiFox) February 20, 2019
thank you for listening and taking the community’s concerns seriously!
— ✨ aleks ✨ (@aleksadastra) February 20, 2019
this is incredible, thank you so much
— Ian Mutchler (@TheFantasticIan) February 20, 2019
Despite the extensive set of allegations against Lasseter, Skydance CEO David Ellison has justified his decision to hire the former Pixar and Disney exec by describing the accusations as “subjective views on behavior.” Ellison has also expressed confidence that “[Lasseter’s] mistakes have been recognized” and that “John has learned valuable lessons.” Despite these assertions, Skydance has reportedly refused to accept any legal or financial responsibility for Lasseter’s behavior during his time with the company.
Lasseter’s hiring has caused concern throughout the film and animation industry. The organization Time’s Up said the hiring decision is “condoning abuse,” while the president of Women in Animation said she was “shocked and distressed.” Mireille Soria, the president of Paramount Animation, which has a distribution deal with Skydance Animation, has told her staff that they could refuse to work with Lasseter if they don’t feel comfortable around him.