Apple bets big on John Lasseter and Skydance Media

Five years ago, John Lasseter was ousted from Disney over allegations about his behavior in the workplace. After employees complained about unwanted hugging by Mr. Lasseter, Disney investigated and found that some subordinates occasionally felt him to be a tyrant. He was forced to resign as Disney-Pixar’s animation chief, apologizing for “missteps” that made staff members feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.”

But, now, Lasseter is now on the verge of professional redemption, thanks to an old friend: Apple.

John Lasseter
John Lasseter

Brooks Barnes for The New York Times:

Apple, perhaps the only company that safeguards its brand more zealously than Disney, has been using Mr. Lasseter as a prominent part of its marketing campaign for “Luck.” Ads for the film, which Peggy Holmes directed and Mr. Lasseter produced, describe it as coming “from the creative visionary behind TOY STORY and CARS.”

“Luck” is just the beginning of Apple’s bet on Mr. Lasseter and Skydance Media, an independent studio that — contentiously — hired him in 2019 as animation chief. (Skydance hired lawyers to scrutinize the allegations against Mr. Lasseter and privately concluded there was nothing egregious.) Skydance has a deal to supply Apple TV+ with multiple animated films and at least one animated series by 2024.

Pariah? Not at Apple.

“It feels like part of me has come home,” Mr. Lasseter said in a phone interview, noting that Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, helped build Pixar before selling it to Disney in 2006. “I really like what Apple TV+ is doing. It’s about quality, not quantity. And their marketing is just spectacular. It’s the best I’ve ever seen in all the movies I’ve made.”

More than 50 people have followed Mr. Lasseter to Skydance from Disney and Pixar, including Ms. Holmes (“Secret of the Wings”), whom he hired to direct “Luck.” The screenplay for “Luck” is credited to Kiel Murray, whose Pixar and Disney writing credits include “Cars” … John Ratzenberger, known as Pixar’s “good luck charm” because he has voiced so many characters over the decades, pops up in “Luck” as Rootie, the Land of Bad Luck’s unofficial mayor.

The upshot: With its glistening animation, attention to detail, story twists and emotional ending, “Luck” has all the hallmarks of a Pixar release. (Reviews will arrive on Wednesday.) Some people who have seen the film have commented on similarities between “Luck” and the 2001 Pixar classic, “Monsters, Inc.” Both films involve elaborate secret worlds that are accidentally disrupted by humans.

MacDailyNews Take: Disney-Pixar’s overreaction to Lasseter’s “unwanted hugging” is Apple’s and Skydance’s gain. (“Skydance hired lawyers to scrutinize the allegations against Mr. Lasseter and privately concluded there was nothing egregious.”)

Apple TV+ animated offerings will benefit greatly from Lasseter’s Skydance contributions.MacDailyNews, April 14, 2021

From Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation, Luck is a story about Sam Greenfield: the unluckiest person in the world. Suddenly finding herself in the never-before-seen Land of Luck, she must unite with the magical creatures there to turn her luck around. Luck premieres August 5th, exclusively on Apple TV+.

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15 Comments

  1. You have no clue what happened. So overaction is a poor choice here. He could be a tyrant and treat women like crap. You have no clue. Usually love your edit but not today

    1. I think you are right to make that point MDN are rarely interested in nuance sadly though the history of operating in the Mac environment can develop that instinct under the slings and arrows once so commonly received. But I can’t help but question perceived truths when 50 odd staff follow him from the place he was bumped from to the place where he is now. Unlike MDN however I won’t jump to the conclusion I would prefer without knowing the true facts of the matter, just find myself willing to have an open mind till I know them and hope that if there are indeed previous issues worthy of sacking that he has now learned from the experience and now use this second opportunity to display his undoubted brilliance.

    2. No one made the allegation “he treated women like crap.” There was unwanted hugging – not groping – hugging. A tyrant? 40-50 people don’t follow tyrants anywhere to work for them. For what, 30 years+ this guy has not had a single allegation then this? That doesn’t line up…

      If a few lefty’s don’t like you then guess which cards are played? That’s my beautiful guess. We are all guessing here, right? Right. But it doesn’t like up or 50 other people from all across his timeline would have popped out and blasted away. Didn’t happen.

  2. There’s a huge difference between true predators — Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Roger Ailes, Lous C.K. — and people who were a somewhat too “handsy” (Lasseter, Morgan Freeman, Garrison Keillor).

    It’s clear Lasseter crossed the line when it came to how he dealt with female staffers. But I’m not sure his sins warrant a lifetime ban from his chosen career. The man is a genius. Personally, I’m glad Apple is helping him get back to work.

    1. Actually, it’s not clear at all. There may have been a few who TOOK offense at the hugs, but – as has been said before – when 50 people follow you from a workplace like Disney/Pixar, it’s unlikely you GAVE offense.

      Disney’s wokeness is going to kill the Mouse. That will be a sad day, but at least the talent won’t go down with it.

  3. The script for ‘Luck’ is a little busy and the whole thing is a little rougher around the edges compared to Pixar films under Lassiter, but ‘Luck’ has the Pixar charm by the truck load. Strangely this charm has been missing from Pixar’s latest offerings…

    1. Oh, they were safeguarding alright. I think Disney canned him because he “wasn’t” a pedophile and because he only hugged women and not transgenders with he/she/they/them/was/were pro-nouns.

  4. So many problems. First Lassiter was ousted on bulls*** me too mob rule so f everyone involved for that. But the big problem is all of apple’s media is it’s almost all woke s*** that mdn constantly covers for. The only thing that apple hasn’t turned woke is Servant and I bet they do in season 2 because they can’t help themselves.

    I didn’t watch luck because the preview gave me bad hints it may be woke s*** too, and my woke filter is set to 0. Hope I’m wrong about it.

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