Friday 30 August 2013

[UPDATED] Official: Bob Peterson No Longer Directing The Good Dinosaur

3 days ago we reported the story that, apparently, Pixar had removed Bob Peterson as director of their next film, The Good Dinosaur. We've been hoping and crossing all our fingers that this wasn't true, but, alas, The LA Times reports officially that the Up co-director has indeed been pulled off the project, with no immediate successor named.

Citing the reasons behind the removal, the article says "With the film's release date fast approaching and various creative choices unmade, Pixar executives decided to replace director Bob Peterson this summer." In addition, studio president Ed Catmull added that "directors get really deep in their films. 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." It's worth noting also that this is the fourth time in eight movies that Pixar have replaced a director, most recently with Brave.

While it's certainly disheartening to hear that Peterson's no longer at the helm, this firm hand has provided great results in the past; Brad Bird took over Ratatouille from Jan Pinkava very early on in production, and both that and Brave went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Film in their individual years. "I would go so far as to argue that a lot of live-action films would be better off with that same process," Catmull adds.

The team currently shepherding The Good Dinosaur.

Peterson came up with the idea for The Good Dinosaur himself; no new director has yet been named. The LA Times piece says that a group including "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)" are currently helping guide several sections of the movie.

It is true that animation is a medium more steeped in directorial changes than live-action; Sony's Hotel Transylvania went through six directors before finally landing in the hands of Dexter's Lab creator Genndy Tartakovsky. Up and Inside Out director Pete Docter admits the method of choosing directors for their films is imperfect. "We take our best guess," he says "We try to diagnose: What are the necessary skills? How does this person measure up? They're going to need buttressing here, here they totally shine, and try to pair them with the right people."

We've grown concerned that Peterson, who has been a mainstay at Pixar since 1995, might become the latest big name to leave the studio. Fortunately, it seems as though the voice of Dug is staying put for the time being - although he declined to comment, he is said to have another directing project in development. "Bob is still working at the studio, and we hope he will stay here for the rest of his natural life," added Pixar GM Jim Morris.

Cars 2 producer Denise Ream has also replaced John Walker (The Incredibles), who is now working on Brad Bird's Tomorrowland. The plan still seems to be to release The Good Dinosaur on 30th May, 2014. How exactly that pans out, only time will tell.

UPDATE - 31/08/2013, 14:40 (GMT): For those a little sceptical about the chances of Mr. Peterson staying at Pixar after all this, the erstwhile director sent out some tweets addressing the subject, and in rather good spirits, last night.

He also sent out the below tweet about the news that Paperman director John Kahrs has just left Disney, alluding to the whirlwind of opinion on his own removal as The Good Dinosaur director:

And finally, this cheery little one:


  1. *sniff* :(

  2. Shame no one knocked John Lasseter off his plinth when he made Cars 2 into the unlikeable crud it was. Surely there were people there who said "I don't think Mater could hold up as a lead role in a full length feature film." I know the death of 3 of the voice actors from the previous had lead to complications, but I still think there should have been more of Lightning than him just appearing as the background character (kinda) and only getting dragged into the action in the 3rd act. :/

  3. John Lasseter was replacing Brad Lewis on Cars 2.

  4. Well whatever the plot was under the control of Brad Lewis, Lasseter taking over didn't make it any better in my opinion.