‘Brave’ Co-Director Brenda Chapman Exits Pixar? (Confirmed)

Brenda Chapman was a well-known personality in the industry before she arrived at Pixar, as she was the first woman ever to direct an animated film from a major studio (The Prince of Egypt from DreamWorks Animation). She had also worked in the writing department on Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Chicken Run. Excitement was in the air when she was hired by Pixar, considered by many to be the best in the animation business. She was to be the first female lead director at the studio when she came up with the idea for Brave before she was replaced by Mark Andrews. Now, a report has emerged that she recently left Pixar.

Co-Director Brenda Chapman arrives at “Brave” World Premiere. Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images.

Pixar Portal, a relatively new site focused on the Pixar scene (originated in November 2011), is reporting that Chapman exited Pixar at the end of July and is now working as a consultant for Lucasfilm. The fellow Pixar site surely had the ability to contact her, as it ran an exclusive interview with her back in December. There were rumors back when news broke on her removal as the lead on Brave that Chapman would only remain at the animation studio while the film was in development and would leave once the film arrived in theaters. However, that was never confirmed by Pixar, Disney, or Chapman.




If the report is true, it is certainly sad, as the story foundation of Brave that Chapman created was intriguing and it would have been great to see more ideas from her at Pixar, for feature films as well as short films. In Brave, she set out to create a film that focused on the relationship of a mother and daughter, as well as to write a story starring a princess where no prince was necessary – in those ways, she succeeded in a big way. The relationship between Princess Merida and her mother Queen Elinor felt intensely real and was by far the greatest aspect of the film. Additionally, Merida worked against the Disney Princess cliché when she paid no attention to finding someone to settle down with.

As of now, the news is still unconfirmed (we are attempting to confirm it) so it maybe better to avoid reporting it as fact until we know it is 100% true. If it is, though, I wish Chapman the very best at Lucasfilm. She is very talented and I would love to see more of her work in the future.

UPDATE (8/8/12 1:00 PM): It is now confirmed, as Chapman has been thanking those on Twitter who are congratulating her on her new position at Lucasfilm.

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  • Fantino

    I hope to see more of her work in the future as well, but not through Pixar. I think one of the reasons Brave took so many directors and co-directors was because she just couldn’t handle the Pixar process on her own.

    Yeah, Brave is good. But it could’ve been better. If you ask me, I think Chapman is to blame for that, even when the original idea came from her.

  • Simoa

    I also would have liked to see more from her, as the mother-daughter dynamic leaves SUCH a powerful impact. I wish her all the best wherever she goes.

    Just one more thing: Merida works against the Disney cliche of falling in love at all; it’s not just exclusive to the princesses or the girls.

  • Jamie

    I love your blog, but there is no Disney Princess cliche. That is a myth perpetuated by the media. Only two princesses actively work to find “someone to settle down with” as you put it. Those princesses being Ariel and Cinderella, but both of them have their motives for doing so. And Cinderella can be somewhat excused as she doesn’t go to the ball expecting to marry the prince. She just wants to be allowed the opportunity she deserves as an eligible young maiden.She doesn’t even know the prince is the prince! All of the princesses have love come to them, not the other way around. They could say no in the end I suppose, but that’s the only difference here between them and Merida. With those girls, they fell in love with the guy presented to them. Merida didn’t fall in love with anyone or feel herself ready and so she wouldn’t settle. Jasmine, especially, is not at all different in this manner. She actively says that she will not marry just anyone. She will not respect the law of the land against her own happiness. The fact that she does fall in love with Aladdin should not undermine her independence as a character! Yet, the media and many fans seem to be acting like Merida is so much different/better because her independence isn’t somehow ruined by a love interest.

    As for Brenda, I wish her success wherever she goes – if she goes. She has some of my favorite films to her credit (TLK, Prince of Egypt and Chicken Run), so I hope she gets more chances to shine in the future.

    • http://pixartimes.com Samad Rizvi

      Thanks for the great comment – well put!

      I guess I worded it wrong. I didn’t mean to give the “Disney Princess” stories a negative connotation, but I did exactly that when I called them a cliché. Personally, I have a deep appreciation for those films and consider them to be some of the best animated movies ever. What I meant to say was that Brenda Chapman actively set out to tell a story starring a princess who has no love interest. She, herself, stated that most animated films with a princess involve them falling in love. Chapman wanted to direct a film with a story less-told (no negative connotation towards Disney films with a princess).

      Many have felt that Merida not having a love interest was empowering – that she didn’t need a partner to succeed. Yes, she didn’t need a partner to fix things. But, the film ‘was’ about love – it involved the love in a relationship between a mother and daughter. Above all, it was refreshing to see a film focus on the mother-daughter relationship. That doesn’t make the Disney Princess films any less great.

      • Jamie

        Thank you for your reply.

        And thank you for pointing out Brenda Chapman’s stance on the other princesses! I do feel like her original intentions have been drowned out by some in the fandom and some in the media taking the empowering message too far out of context. Unfortunately, I have read too many reviews for the film or comments about the film that included negative remarks toward the other princesses and I think that’s a shame because it’s not what she wanted at all – after all I think those other princesses helped paved the road for Chapman’s story in the first place.
        I agree entirely that it was still a love story. It was clear that the point was Merida and Elinor falling back in love with one another as mother-daughter. I also found it refreshing that the possible love interests weren’t excited about the marriage arrangement either. It was a nice balance to show that people don’t have to be tired only of the “princess that falls in love trope,” but that the same can apply to princes.
        Thanks again for the response and understanding where I was coming from :) I admit I can get a little defensive of the princesses in general since I feel they too often get slack from those determined to think they are bad role models.