Pixar Co-Founder to Retire: What Could This Mean for the Company?

Pixar Co-Founder to Retire: What Could This Mean for the Company?

By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer

This past Tuesday, Disney announced that co-founder of Pixar Studios, Ed Catmull will retire in the summer of 2019. After numerous successful projects like TOY STORY and CARS, Catmull will leave the renown animation company in the hands of Pete Docter, the newly named head of Pixar who’s a Christian.

With the change in landscape for Pixar, Movieguide® thought it would be appropriate to reflect on the genesis of the company while posing some healthy speculation of what’s to come for audiences.

Since its start in the 1970’s Pixar has maintained a high standard of excellence which yielded box office hits like UP, A BUG’S LIFE and MONSTER’S INC. After a brief stint working under STAR WARS creator, George Lucas, Catmull joined the Pixar team and was later named both the head of Walt Disney Studios and Pixar upon their merger in 2006. He spoke kindly of his five-decade tenure, “Never in my wildest imagination could I have conceived of the path or the extraordinary people I have worked with over all of these years — the twists and turns, the ups and downs, along with exhilarating passion, talent, and dedication that have led to something extraordinary, something that has an enduring impact in the world.”

During the late 1970s, Movieguide® founder Dr. Baehr, maintained a close personal relationship with the team who eventually formed Pixar years later. Dr. Baehr is quoted about their early days in the book by David A. Price, The Pixar Touch, “From the very get-go, they were working toward the point where they could be Disney… That’s all they talked about.”

Pixar’s work standards are arguably unparalleled in the industry. For instance, Pixar has a unique rule that upon seeing a new movie, if anyone at the company doesn’t like something, filmmakers will try to rework it.  At the time when the first TOY STORY was releasing in the mid 90’s, Dr. Baehr worked directly with Walt Disney Company to ensure a quality movie. The team heeded his suggestions along with many others and made substantial changes to the movie up until the premiere.

Flash forward twenty years later, Pixar’s vision resonates with audiences worldwide contributing to billions of dollars at the box office, and even rides and attractions at Disney theme parks. However, the most recent Pixar movie, INCREDIBLES 2, took a slight turn from Pixar “classics.” The summer blockbuster contained a few pieces of unfortunate foul language. In the future, Movieguide® hopes that Pixar will stick to its roots in offering solid family-friendly entertainment by holding fast to their initial inspiration for the innovative animation company. Dr. Baehr reminds us, “rarely of if ever does someone walk out of a theater saying, ‘well, I just wish there was more cussing or taking God’s name in vain….’”

Catmull expressed his personal sentiments for Pixar as they move forward in his absence, “we continue to dream of stories and ways of making those stories that always surprise.” He continues, “I have the mixed emotions that come with stepping away from a group of people I love, but also with the utmost pride and pleasure that we now have at both Pixar and Disney Animation the most dedicated and imaginative leaders I have worked with.”

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