On February 1, Walt Disney Animation Studios will hold a “Day of Listening,” with human-resource professionals on hand to discuss concerns in the workplace. The gathering which is unprecedented for the company comes as sources close with Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios speculates that the animation executive will not return at all from what Disney is calling a ‘six-month sabbatical.’ At the time, Lasseter acknowledged “painful” conversations and unspecified “missteps” in a memo to staff.
While Disney has not commented, an insider described this “Day of Listening” as part of an effort to engage with employees. One veteran, according to The Hollywood Reporter says he believes the “real reason behind this day of listening is to take the temperature of staff to see how likely it is that Lasseter can come back,” he says many in the animation community think Lasseter’s return is unlikely. “That’s a stretch to put somebody back in charge of animation at such a storied brand as Disney after the revelations of his behavior,” he says.
If Lasseter is out, that brings the new question of who will take his place. At Pixar, the name Pete Docter is thrown around a lot. Docter directed Monsters Inc., Up and Inside Out. Docter has for years been a member of the studio’s “brain trust” that guides Pixar projects.
Some believe that Docter will be paired up with Finding Dory director Andrew Stanton and possibly another co-head.