‘Toy Story 3’ and ‘Coco’ director Lee Unkrich is leaving Disney Pixar after 25 years

"It's nearly incomprehensible to imagine no longer being here"

Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich has announced his decision to leave Disney Pixar after 25 years, saying that it’s “time for new challenges and new adventures”.

The animator directed 2010’s third instalment of Toy Story and more recently helmed the fantasy movie, Coco. In a four-star review of the latter, NME concluded: “This is a glorious return to form for one of cinema’s most-treasured institutions.”

Now, having also co-directed Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, and Finding Nemo across his quarter-century career, Unkrich has announced his upcoming departure from Pixar.

The 51-year-old made his employers aware of his decision on Friday (January 18), before posting the news on Twitter.

“It is impossible for me to adequately express how epic this 25-year journey has been, and how much it has meant to work alongside such fantastic people and phenomenal talents,” Unkrich posted, along with the caption ‘Letter sent to my Pixar family’.

“Many of you are like family to me, and it’s nearly incomprehensible to imagine no longer being here at Pixar with you. But life is about change, and it’s now my time for new challenges and new adventures.”

Unkrich went on to confirm that he is “not leaving to make films at another studio”, but will be “spending much-needed time with my family and pursuing interests that have long been back-burnered.”

He added: “I often tell people that the worst thing about working at Pixar is that I have never gotten to see ‘the new Pixar movie’ without having worked on it or knowing everything about it.

“While it will be many years before I get that opportunity, I look forward to it. I’ll be first in line to see what you create together.”

Meanwhile, Disney recently confirmed that their new Pixar original story will be called ‘Onward’ – and revealed that Chris Pratt will appear alongside Veep’s Julia Louise-Dreyfus and Spider-Man’s Tom Holland.