Disney and Pixar haven’t come to terms of firing John Lasseter just yet, but the head of Disney Animation is stepping away from the studio for the next six months according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter.
The executive apologized for his missteps in a memo to staff, writing…
“I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be. It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.”
Lasseter was originally appointed CEO over Pixar during the buyout back in 2006 by Disney, but after helping the studio churn out one hit after another, he eventually became the head of Disney Animation. He’s since helped the company rack in massive revenue with popular films like Frozen and Moana. As reported by THR, under Lasseter’s leadership Disney has picked up a total of eight Oscars.
However, all that success will be put on hold for now, after allegations of groping, unwanted kissing, hugging, and a “sexual advance” was made toward some staff, including Toy Story 4 writer Rashida Jones.
Disney also issued a statement about the matter, writing…
“We are committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work. We appreciate John’s candor and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical.”
The six month sabbatical is likely so that the media will “forget” about Lasseter’s transgressions and so that he can be back in time to keep churning out projects at Disney to make the company more money and win more awards. Given the amount of success he’s brought the studio it seems obvious from his self-appointed sabbatical that they aren’t keen on firing him the way some other moguls, employees, journalists, tech evangelists and actors have been ousted from their jobs over the scandals.
This is particularly interesting given that this comes at a time where Disney is being ram-rodded by the loot box gambling scandal surrounding their most prized IP, Star Wars.
This is no laughing matter either. International gambling commissions have launched full investigations into premium loot boxes in games like Star Wars: Battlefront II and have deemed them as unregulated gambling, making them illegal. Legislation and new mandates are currently being sought by the Belgian Ministry of Justice, while Hawaii’s state representatives and legislators are moving to prohibit publishers like Electronic Arts from selling games like Star Wars: Battlefront II to minors. This will be a huge blow to the Star Wars property having the taint of unregulated gambling looming over the head of its latest software product.
Now having lost Lasseter for the next six months (or possibly longer if additional allegations surface), Disney is likely hoping that they can stop reeling by the time Star Wars: The Last Jedi makes it into theaters.