Today, two-time Oscar-winning director Lee Unkrich announced that he is leaving Pixar Animation Studios.

The Pixar veteran has been with the studio for 25 years, starting off in the editing room for Pixar’s first theatrical film, Toy Story, then going on to co-direct Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo, before ultimately directing the widely successful films Toy Story 3 and Coco.

The Hollywood Reporter noted that Lee informed Pixar employees of his decision this afternoon. According to the outlet the split was amicable.

“I’m not leaving to make films at another studio; instead, I look forward to spending much-needed time with my family and pursuing interests that have long been back-burnered,” Unkrich noted as he spoke with THR.

Lee also took to Twitter to share the news.

Unkrich first joined Pixar when the studio was creating the first Toy Story. He would later direct the third installment of the franchise before helming Coco. Both films would go on to gross a combined worlwide box office total of over $2 billion dollars. Both films also earned Unkrich an Academy Awards.

Longtime Pixar employee and Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter had this to say regarding Unkrich.

“Lee arrived at Pixar as we were crafting Toy Story, and he’s had a profound effect on all Pixar films since. He literally taught us rookie filmmakers about staging, composition, and cutting. His artistry and expert craftsmanship as an editor and co-director became a major reason for the high quality of our filmmaking, and as Lee went on to direct, his ability to find the deep humor and emotion enabled him to create some of the strongest films we’ve made.”

Back in March, Unkrich’s producing partner Darla K. Anderson also left the studio after 25 years. Pixar President Ed Catmull also recently retired from the studio.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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