By Will Ashton
Director Bob Peterson has established a strong working relationship with Pixar over the past decade or so. He’s co-written such hits as Finding Nemo and Ratatouille, and co-wrote and co-directed Up back in 2009.
But it appears that there may be some trouble in paradise, as the film he is currently writing and co-directing, The Good Dinosaur, may have removed him from the picture.
Just nine months until the film is set to be released, rumors have begun being spread that Peterson has been kicked off the project. According to Blue Sky Disney, he and producer John Walker have been fired from the movie by producer John Lasseter. They claim that, despite this, they are still aiming to keep their initial release date in tact.
Considering that Peter Sohn is the co-director of the project, it can safely be assumed that he is stepping in Peterson’s shoes, should this be true. But, at this time, no names have been listed as his replacement.
This rumor may have a little more truth than regular rumors, as Peterson and Walker were reportedly, and notably, absent from Disney D23 expo panel of the film a couple weeks ago.
This would not be the first time a Pixar movie has had to replace its director. John Lasseter replaced both the original directors of Toy Story 2 and Cars 2, the former being most notable here as he reworked the whole movie in just nine months time. Brad Bird also replaced the original director of Ratatouille, Jan Pinkava, and there were probably be a book someday about the firing of director Brenda Chapman from Brave.
We’ll have to see if this is true. Hopefully, it’s not, but it does seem more likely than usual. The Good Dinosaur is supposed to come out May 30, 2014.
Update: It has been confirmed that Peterson has been removed from the project. But he has not left Pixar, according to the LA Times. While another director is being searched for, the core of the Pixar brain trust, including John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Mark Andrews and Pete Sohn, will be used as temporary directors. Each member is overseeing different sequences of the film.
Ed Catmull, president of Pixar, said the following to LA Times:
“All 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. I would go so far as to argue that a lot of live-action films would be better off with that same process.”
He also added the following:
“We’ve been around long enough to know [the production process] will never be smooth, but getting this process smooth is not our goal; our goal is to make the movie great.”
Jim Morris, general manager and executive vice president of production, also added that Peterson is still working for the studio, and that Pixar hopes “he will stay here for the rest of his natural life.” He has another project in the works with the studio.