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.
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.