Disney’s Animation Chief To Make Exit

The Los Angeles Times reports that Thomas Schumacher may step down as head of The Walt Disney Co.’s animation group when his contract expires in June. The 14-year Disney veteran is reportedly in negotiations to remain involved with Disney’s theatrical stage arm, for which he has initiated productions of The Little Mermaid, Tarzan and Mary Poppins.

In addition to 2D animated Disney features, Schumacher has overseen the studio’s partnership with Pixar Animation Studios Inc. since taking over the post in 1999.

While Shumacher’s tenure has seen hits like Tarzan, Monsters, Inc., and Lilo & Stitch, it is also marked by disappointments like Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The Emperor’s New Groove and a general loss of competitive edge in a market once dominated by the House of Mouse.

Disney spokesperson Zenia Mucha denies rumors that Shumacher is being forced from his position. His heir apparent is Disney television animation division head David Stainton.