After the D23 Expo, speculation ran wild on what had happened to Bob Peterson, the director of The Good Dinosaur, who was nowhere to be found during Disney’s biannual show. A report emerged earlier this week which claimed he had been removed from the project, but Disney/Pixar remained mum on the subject – until now, that is. Today, it has been confirmed that Peterson was taken off the film and a group of directors have stepped in to complete the film. Find more details after the break.
Rebecca Keegan of the L.A. Times received confirmation from the studio that Peterson was no longer directing the film. Studio president Ed Catmull provided an explanation:
“All directors get really deep in their films,” Catmull said this week. “Sometimes you just need a different perspective to get the idea out. Sometimes directors … are so deeply embedded in their ideas it actually takes someone else to finish it up. I would go so far as to argue that a lot of live-action films would be better off with that same process.”
Additionally, Keegan reports that a group of directors have taken over for the time being:
Until a new director is named, Pixar is relying on a team of people to shepherd various sections of the movie, due in theaters in nine months. That group includes Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, “Toy Story 3” director Lee Unkrich, “Brave” director Mark Andrews and the film’s original co-director Peter Sohn (at Pixar, a co-director plays a deputy role to the director).
It sounds like in order to ensure that the film arrives in theaters on time, Pixar has turned to established directors to focus on certain portions of the film. Rather than one sole director running around and looking after the entire film, the larger group will speed up the process. Hopefully, the diverse collection of visions in the group will lead to a cohesive film that flows well. There is no shortage of talent in the pool – Unkrich last directed the beloved Toy Story 3 and is currently developing an original project associated with Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, Lasseter is the head visionary at the studio, and Andrews put in solid work on Brave.
Responding to another rumor that Peterson would be leaving Pixar, Catmull clarified that the long-time employee is still at Pixar developing another project. Studio general manager Jim Morris stated, “Bob is still working at the studio, and we hope he will stay here for the rest of his natural life,” putting the choice to stay at Pixar fully in the hands of Peterson, who has been with the animation studio for almost 20 years. It could not have been easy to be pulled off a project that he started himself, as the idea for The Good Dinosaur was inspired by his visit to the 1964-65 World’s Fair in NY.
This falls in line with what I wrote a few days back after the rumor caught fire. Through experience, Pixar employees try to learn how to detach themselves from their works so that if changes are necessary they are not emotionally attached. Understandably, if one has a strong connection with his or her work, each time a critique is made it would be incredibly painful to hear. That pain likely never goes away, but lessens with the understanding that changes are made for the good of the film. Peterson declined to comment on the project’s director change, but one can guess what he felt after he was replaced. He is an incredible talent at Pixar, and I cannot wait to see what he does next.
The Good Dinosaur is scheduled to hit theaters on May 30, 2014.