When Empire talked to the team behind The Good Dinosaur at the Disney D23 event last month, we were surprised to learn that director Bob Peterson was not among the representatives. Now we know the reason: Pixar has removed him from the film.
Blue Sky Disney broke the first word about Peterson last week, and the LA Times had received confirmation from Pixar president Ed Catmull. "All directors get really deep in their films," Catmull says. "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."
It seems strange for someone like Peterson – who has been with Pixar since working as an animator on Toy Story and who has contributed to most of its other huge successes (including co-directing Up and voicing Dug) – would be removed, particularly given that odd statement about removing someone who is deeply embedded in their film.
It’s not the first time this has happened at the Emeryville studio, however. Brad Bird replaced Jan Pinkava on Ratatouille and guided the film to huge success, while John Lasseter stepped in for Brad Lewis on Cars 2. More controversially, Brenda Chapman was pulled from Brave and Mark Andrews took over that one. Usually, those who have been replaced end up leaving the company, but Peterson has been indicating that he’ll stay.
For now, co-director Peter Sohn and producer Denise Ream are shouldering the load with Pixar Brain Trust members Lasseter, Lee Unkrich and Andrews overseeing matters. With the film – about dinosaurs avoiding extinction and co-existing with primitive humans – due in US cinemas next May (and July over here), there’s clearly a lot of work to be done.