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Fresh off her Oscar win for Coco, longtime Pixar producer Darla K. Anderson is leaving the animation studio after 25 years to pursue other creative and philanthropic endeavors.
Anderson’s work on Coco — which won the Oscar for best animated feature at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony — also earned her the PGA’s Producer of the Year Award in animated theatrical features, an honor she previously received for Cars and Toy Story 3.
Anderson joined Pixar in 1993, and her résumé also includes A Bug’s Life and Monsters, Inc., among other titles. She is one of the most successful producers across the film industry when considering the average box-office gross of the movies she has made. (The 2008 Guinness Book of World Records listed Anderson as having the highest average movie gross for a producer, at $221 million per film.)
“I’ve had a magical and privileged experience working at Pixar for over two decades. The creativity, imagination and innovation at Pixar is second to none. I’m truly grateful to have been a part of this historic journey and hold excitement for my next chapter,” Anderson said Thursday in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
Added Walt Disney Co. chairman-CEO Bob Iger: “Darla has been a creative force in animation and a strong voice at Pixar for 25 years. She’s made an indelible mark on the industry as an Oscar-winning producer and a relentless champion for stories that reflect the diversity of the global audience. She takes my best wishes with her as she sets a course for her next adventure.”
Anderson said Coco is a highlight of her career for its cultural diversity. The movie, about Mexico’s Day of the Dead holiday, has outperformed expectations, grossing north of $744 million globally, including becoming the top-grossing film of all time in Mexico ($58 million). It also is a runaway hit in China, where it has earned nearly $190 million.
“Darla is not only a storied producer, but one of the true pioneers in the creation of computer-animated feature films. From A Bug’s Life to the sublime Coco, Darla has produced a remarkable body of movies that have not only raised the bar for animation but for cinema as a whole,” said Pixar chief Jim Morris.
As a high-ranking woman at Pixar, Anderson has mentored many of the female producers at the company. She also is an advocate for the LGBTQX community and organizations that empower women.
Prior to joining Pixar, Anderson worked with Angel Studios in Carlsbad, California, as the executive producer of its commercial division. It was there where she was introduced to the world of 3D computer graphics, and then relocated to the Bay Area with the intention of gaining a position at Pixar. Anderson still resides in the San Francisco Bay area.
“I have had the pleasure of working closely with Darla for over 25 years,” said Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. “She was there from the beginning, when we were all figuring out how to make a computer-graphics animated film, and I personally owe her a debt of gratitude for all her contributions to our studio and our industry.”
Her exit comes less than five months after John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar and Disney Animation, took a leave of absence after admitting to “missteps.”
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