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:
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.