Now this is the sort of story you absolutely hate to read (and for what it's worth, it was no picnic to write either) and hope with all your heart isn't true. Blue Sky Disney - who you might remember as the fatally trustworthy source who first told us about Big Hero 6 a while back, and Zootopia, Giants and Moana more recently - says that both director Bob Peterson and producer John Walker have been pulled from Pixar's The Good Dinosaur.
A few people started to worry when Peterson (who also co-directed Up) was a no-show at the D23 expo a few weeks ago, with the film's announcements being accompanied by co-director Pete Sohn (Partly Cloudy). I didn't think much of it at the time - even film directors get ill or have travel problems from time to time - and everything we saw from and heard about the film looked so very promising. But BSD's Honor Hunter says Pixar head honcho "John Lasseter has reportedly taken Bob Peterson off the film," but, he adds, "is attempting to still meet the 2014 release date."
This isn't the first time a director has been removed from a Pixar project. Pixar have a long track record of doing what's best for the film; Jan Pinkava was replaced very early on on Ratatouille by Incredibles director Brad Bird, Lasseter himself replaced Brad Lewis at the helm of Cars 2 - this even stretches back as far as the studio's third feature, Toy Story 2, where Ash Brannon (Surf's Up) was originally helming the film when it was a direct-to-video project, before Lasseter stepped in to reshape it. The directorial changes were most prominent and most controversial, though, with last summer's Brave, where Brenda Chapman - who was to be Pixar's first female director - was removed and replaced by Mark Andrews. Chapman has since spoken out against what she felt was micromanagement by Lasseter.
I have an abundance of faith in Lasseter and in Pixar's process... but I'd be lying if I said this rumour didn't upset and concern me. Bob Peterson is a great talent who contributed a lot of what made Up so phenomenal; he was actually the main reason I was so excited about The Good Dinosaur, as one of the Pixarians I most wanted to see helm a feature film. The possibility of him no longer directing TGD is not one I'm happy to entertain. And it would suck beyond words, too, if Peterson became the latest to leave the studio.
|Current The Good Dinosaur co-director, Peter Sohn.|
Who could step up as the new director, though, if this story is true? The logical choice would seem to be Pete Sohn, who's already been very involved with the film. Another possibility is Enrico Casarosa, who served as head of story on the film and has already showed his directorial chops with the fabulous short film La Luna. But if the problems with the film are substantial enough to remove Peterson, Pixar may want a more experienced director at the tiller. And this is without even factoring in that the film would apparently also need a new producer...
One thing's for sure, if this rumour proves true, that 30th May, 2014 release date is looking very unlikely.
UPDATE - 30/08/2013: Alas, it's true. Pixar have confirmed the removal - but it's not all as bleak as we might've thought. More here.