LOS ANGELES — John Lasseter, the animation titan who has been on leave from the Walt Disney Company since November because of what he called “missteps” that made some staff members feel “disrespected and uncomfortable,” will not return to the conglomerate.
Disney said on Friday that Mr. Lasseter — the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios who has long been one of Disney’s most important creative executives, serving as a force behind the “Toy Story,” “Cars” and “Frozen” franchises — would take on a consulting role at the company until the end of the year and then leave permanently. He will not have an office in the interim.
Mr. Lasseter, 61, served as chief creative officer of Pixar and the separate Walt Disney Animation studio. Disney did not name replacements. Jennifer Lee, a director of “Frozen,” is expected to be promoted at Walt Disney Animation, and Pete Docter, the director of films like “Up” and “Inside Out,” is expected to take on greater responsibilities at Pixar, according to a person briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because plans had not been finalized.
A self-described Peter Pan, Mr. Lasseter has long been known for his jolly public persona and tendency to greet anyone in his proximity — subordinates, stars, fans, reporters — with lengthy bear hugs. In 2011, The Wall Street Journal published a photo slide show of his frequent squeezes, saying he had handed out at least 48 of them in one day at the office.