After a quarter century serving as part of the creative core of Pixar Animation Studios, director Lee Unkrich has announced he is leaving the company and stepping away from the Hollywood animation game. The helmer of numerous globally beloved and critically acclaimed films — including animated feature Oscar winners Coco and Toy Story 3 — confirmed his decision on Twitter Friday:
After twenty-five incredible years, I’ve decided to leave Pixar.
The time has come for new adventures. pic.twitter.com/0KZyHXhs8L
— Lee Unkrich (@leeunkrich) January 18, 2019
In a statement, Unkrich said, “I’m not leaving to make films at another studio; instead, I look forward to spending much-needed time with my family and pursuing interests that have long been back-burnered.”
Pete Docter, Chief Creative Officer of Pixar, lauded Unkrich’s creative contributions to the studio over the years:
“Lee arrived at Pixar as we were crafting Toy Story, and he’s had a profound effect on all Pixar films since. He literally taught us rookie filmmakers about staging, composition, and cutting. His artistry and expert craftsmanship as an editor and co-director became a major reason for the high quality of our filmmaking, and as Lee went on to direct, his ability to find the deep humor and emotion enabled him to create some of the strongest films we’ve made. He will be sorely missed — but we are enormously grateful for his tireless dedication to quality, and his ability to touch the hearts of audiences around the world.”
Unkrich began his Pixar career as a film editor on the first Toy Story. His credits with the studio also include the smash hit features Toy Story 2 (co-director & editor), Monsters, Inc. (co-director & additional editor), Finding Nemo (co-director & supervising film editor), Toy Story 3 (director & story writer), Coco (director & story writer), and the Coco short Dante’s Lunch (director). He was also executive producer on Monsters University and The Good Dinosaur, and conceived the original story for this year’s Toy Story 4 (June 21), directed by Josh Cooley.
In addition to the two Best Animated Feature Film Oscars and an adapted screenplay Oscar nomination for Toy Story 3, Unkrich has racked up two animated feature BAFTA Awards (Coco & TS3) plus one Children’s BAFTA nomination (Finding Nemo); four feature production Annie Awards, a VES Award and numerous other festival and critical honors.