Why Did John Lasseter Step Down From Directing ‘Toy Story 4’?

One of the more meaningful reveals at last week’s Disney corporate marketing expo D23 was the announcement that John Lasseter was stepping down as co-director of Toy Story 4, leaving Josh Cooley as the film’s sole director.

Lasseter will stay on board as executive producer, a role that he also serves on every other Disney and Pixar feature animation release. As part of the shake-up, Jonas Rivera (Up, Inside Out) is taking over as producer from Galyn Susman, who had previously been announced as producer.

Cooley started as a Pixar story department intern in 2003, before serving as the story supervisor on Inside Out and directing and writing the short Riley’s First Date?

Lasseter did not explain onstage at D23 why he was handing over the reins on the film, but he spoke in-depth afterward with the Chinese film website Mtime, where he offered the following explanation:

“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.”

Since the news proved to be accurate, we can now reveal that the blind item we published last August was in fact referring to this situation at Pixar. It’s important to point out that the reason for Lasseter’s departure that is claimed in the blind item is impossible to verify without further details. It is entirely possible that Lasseter’s explanation above is valid and accurate.

While the reasons for the director and producer upheaval remain uncertain, what can definitively be confirmed is that Lasseter stepped down as director of Toy Story 4 nearly one year ago, and the directorial shift was not announced until last week.

Toy Story 4 is scheduled to open June 21, 2019 in the United States. When the film was first announced in 2014, it was issued a 2017 release date, before being delayed until 2018, and more recently, delayed again to 2019.

(Photo via Shutterstock.com)