Confirmed: Director Bob Peterson Is Off THE GOOD DINOSAUR; Pixar Brain Trust Acting as Interim Director

     August 30, 2013

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A few days ago, rumors started surfacing that director Bob Peterson—a mainstay of Pixar for years—had been pulled off of the studio’s 2014 film The Good Dinosaur.  I was really hoping that the report would turn out to be untrue, but sadly confirmation has surfaced that Peterson has indeed been removed from the film.  While one would think that co-director Peter Sohn would make an easy replacement, apparently that is not the case.  So who, exactly, is directing The Good Dinosaur—a film that is slated to hit theaters in just nine months?  Well a team of filmmakers is reportedly overseeing the production as the search for a replacement director ensues.

Hit the jump for more, including why Peterson was removed from the film and which filmmakers are currently steering the ship.

the-good-dinosaur-concept-artAs with all Pixar films, The Good Dinosaur has been in development for a number of years.  Bob Peterson came up with the film’s premise himself, which takes place in a contemporary world where dinosaurs weren’t rendered extinct by a meteor 65 million years ago and now live side-by-side with humans.  Pixar announced at D23 last month that the voice cast for The Good Dinosaur was being filled out by Lucas Neff, Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Greer, John Lithgow, and Frances McDormand, but noticeably absent from the event was the film’s director, Peterson.

The LA Times confirms that Pixar removed Peterson from The Good Dinosaur earlier this summer, as the film’s release date was fast approaching and “various creative choices” remained unmade.  This was to be Peterson’s first shot at directing a Pixar film solo, as he previously acted as co-director on Up and has been involved with the studio’s films since Toy Story.  Pixar President Ed Catmull issued an official statement regarding Peterson’s departure, noting that this is not out of the ordinary for the studio:

“All directors get really deep in their films,” Catmull said this week. “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.”

bob-peterson-pixar-the-good-dinosaurCurrently, the Pixar Brain Trust is acting as interim director on the project until an official replacement is named.  Pixar CEO John Lasseter, Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, Brave director Mark Andrews, and Peter Sohn are all shepherding various sections of the movie, making the production of The Good Dinosaur quite hectic.  While Pixar harbors a very collaborative atmosphere, it has to be tough to continue production on a film without one central person making the final decisions (although one imagines Lasseter is probably filling that role at the moment).

While previously replaced directors have opted not to stay at Pixar following their removals, general manager and executive vice president of production Jim Morris seems optimistic about Peterson’s future with the studio and notes that he’s currently working on another directing project in development:

“Bob is still working at the studio, and we hope he will stay here for the rest of his natural life.”

The Good Dinosaur also has a new producer, as Cars 2 producer Denise Ream recently replaced John Walker who apparently stepped away to work on Brad Bird’s live-action Disney film Tomorrowland.  Obviously this isn’t the first time that Pixar has made a director change—they did the same on Toy Story 2, Ratatouille, Cars 2, and Brave—but this is becoming something of a habit as three out of the studio’s last four pictures will have gone through director swaps.  Here’s hoping The Good Dinosaur delivers the goods despite its troubled production process.  The film is slated to open in theaters on May 30, 2014.

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