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Pixar's 'Brave' Move: Reshuffling of Directors

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Pixar project Brave has  reshuffled its directors chairs.

Gone from the project is Brenda Chapman, who would have been the first woman director on a Pixar film, and now in is veteran storyboard artist Mark Andrews.

Pixar had no comment on the director switcheroo, news of which first broke on animation website Cartoon Brew.

Replacing directors on projects in animation is not uncommon. Pixar especially is not afraid to turn 180 degrees in mid-stream. Brad Bird replaced Jan Pinkava for Ratatouille. Disney’s Bolt got an overhaul when original director Chris Sanders was fired by John Lasseter, newly installed as chief creative officer at Disney; Lassetter then slotted in Chris Williams and Byron Howard. And in 2008, Glen Keane stepped away from Tangled when it was still known as Rapunzel due to health issues; the movie coming out next month was guided by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard.

But the reasons for the focus on Brave are two-fold. One, the project is the only non-sequel movie scheduled by Pixar for the next few years, with Cars 2 and Monsters Inc. 2 on the calendar; fans are hoping that the only original movie in the current lineup isn’t delayed.

Secondly, observers were cheering Chapman to break through the gender barrier in a field dominated by men. Who knows when another feature will come along to give a female director a shot?

Chapman is a longtime Disney animation vet, having worked on as a writer on a slew of movies staring with Beauty and the Beast. She also worked as a writer on Pixar’s Cars. On the helming front, her sole credit is co-directing The Prince of Egypt.

Andrews, on the other hand, comes from the art side of the animation, acting as a storyboard artist for Quest for Camelot, The Iron Giant, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and several TV shows. For Pixar, he worked on The Incredibles and Toy Story 3, and co-directed the short One Man Band.

On Cartoon Brew, Pocahontas director Mike Gabriel posted the following comment: “Brenda is a class act. A beautiful soul. A star talent in the industry who continues to inspire, more so in adversity than a smooth ride. The Brave release is heartbreaking from the outside but may be a blessing from the inside. You never know.”