Pixar’s fifteenth feature film The Good Dinosaur will hit theaters next May. It might sound strange, then, that the beloved animation studio has just fired the film’s director, Bob Peterson, from the project, according to the LA Times. But Pixar has lately made swapping directors Standard Operating Procedure – most controversially with last year’s Brave, the company’s first-ever female-headlined film, which was also going to be its first-ever female-directed film before the ousting of original helmer Brenda Chapman. Chapman now works for cross-court rivals DreamWorks Animation, and recently implied to the New York Times that Pixar chief John Lasseter micro-manages; coincidentally, Lasseter himself stepped in to replace the original director of Cars 2, that terrifying post-apocalyptic horror film that your kids love so darn much.
The LA Times quotes a couple of Pixarites who claim this is just a typical animated-movie shuffle. Because of Pixar’s unique brain-trust set-up, most of the films resemble group projects, with creative personnel regularly shifting roles and features. The Executive Vice President of Production for Pixar is quoted as saying that Bob Peterson is still employed at Pixar and notes, “We hope he will stay here for the rest of his natural life,” which sounds a bit like a threat if you imagine the EVP speaking with Kelsey Grammer’s voice and twirling a cartoon mustache. (Pixar’s set-up is a bit reminiscent of an Old Hollywood studio in that sense; hey, Wizard of Oz had about four directors, and it turned out okay.)
Still, it’s yet another curious development for Pixar, which has spent the post-Toy Story 3 era making fabulously successful movies that pretty much everyone agrees aren’t as good as Pixar’s older fabulously successful movies. Still, it’s important to remember that The Good Dinosaur stars lots of dinosaurs, which guarantees the movie will make approximately all the money even if it ends with a twenty-minute Gertie the Dinosaur GIF.