Pete Docter Pete Docter

For two years until this summer, Pete Docter was performing a delicate balancing act. While directing his latest feature Soul at Pixar, he was also serving as the studio’s newly minted chief creative officer (CCO). A new profile by The Hollywood Reporter’s Rebecca Keegan examines how he ended up in that position and what he plans to do with the studio now.

With Soul now finally on our screens — our small screens, as the film was redirected from theaters to Disney+ — Docter can concentrate on being CCO. Described as the heir to his predecessor John Lasseter, Docter nevertheless assumed the role in surprising circumstances: Lasseter had stepped down amid accusations of sexual harassment, and Docter felt he had no choice but to step up, even though he was halfway through production on Soul.

Keegan describes Docter’s confusion at the time: a combination of his sense of duty to the studio, his anxiety about his own leadership skills, and his conflicted feelings about Lasseter’s legacy. She also sets out his vision for Pixar, focusing on his emphasis on diversity. Below are our main takeaways.

1. Docter is stepping away from the director’s chair for now. “The CCO job is not making films,” he says. “It’s guiding other people. I was initially worried that it would be like a tax, taking me away from what I really loved. But it’s been surprisingly rewarding.” (Docter’s other directorial credits include Up, Inside Out, and Monsters, Inc.)

2. No features greenlit by Docter have yet been announced. The three upcoming features that have been announced — Luca, Turning Red, and Lightyear — were all OKed before he took over as CCO. But he does outline his ethos to Keegan: “In the past we had a big run of sequels, too many in a row. Now we have a lot of original stuff, which I’m personally excited about, but for financial safety we probably should have a few more sequels in there.”

3. Two more women are developing features at Pixar. Rosana Sullivan directed the short Kitbull, which was nominated for an Oscar last year. Aphton Corbin was a story artist on Toy Story 4 and Soul; if her film is greenlit, she will be Pixar’s first Black feature director (Kemp Powers was its first Black co-director). Domee Shi is currently directing Turning Red at the studio, where she is the first woman to direct a feature solo.

4. For Docter, moving Soul to Disney+ was “a kick in the gut.” He explains: “We finaled every frame on the big screen. We wanted it to be experienced together. That’s still sad. However, where we are now, boy, if he hadn’t made that call, I don’t know that people would’ve seen the movie at all.”

5. Lasseter wasn’t as influential as many believed. Many sources told Keegan that his role diminished after Disney acquired Pixar in 2006. The perception of Lasseter as all-powerful “wasn’t completely the truth of how that studio ran all along,” says director Andrew Stanton. “There were many names and systems and protocols that made something so huge run.”

Read the full article here.

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