Along with heading up both Pixar and Disney Animation, John Lasseter helmed the first two of the “Toy Story” films. So when he was announced as director of the in-development fourth film, it came as no real surprise.

What was a bit of a shock was the news this weekend that Lasseter officially announced he would be stepping down and reducing his involvement to only that of executive producer. Instead, his previously announced co-director Josh Cooley will take the helm on his own.

At an international press conference following the Pixar D23 panel, Lasseter has now explained his decision (via MTime):

“I always felt like I need to keep directing, and that’s why I decided to do Toy Story 4 initially, but I oversee three studios and I think I counted 24 feature films I’m overseeing, and it was not really practical, to be blunt.

But also what made it easy was Josh Cooley was amazing; wait until you see it – he is so good. And it was time to let go of the bike and let him ride, and he’s doing a great job. It’s really fantastic.

And I do get creative satisfaction from being the executive producer, the chief creative officer, and helping all of these great filmmakers. So that’s what made the decision for me, and I’m loving what I do. I have the best job in the world.

I mean, who can blame the guy? Directing an animated movie like this takes years of daily commitment, and to do it along with all his other jobs simultaneously seems kind of impossible. Plus, the third Toy Story was also directed by a first timer, and that turned out pretty well.”

“Toy Story 4” is currently scheduled for release June 21st 2019.

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