Back to the Boys Club

Long-time readers will know of my concerns regarding Pixar’s long-running marginalization of women in their films (Is Pixar a “Boys Only” Club?, Rataphooey, Misogyn•E, More on Pixar (Or, Why I Suck at Soundbites), Pixar and Gender, and Things That Bugged Me About Up).

Even given all of that, I’ve been cautiously optimistic about Pixar’s next film, Brave, for some time now. It looked like Pixar was finally cracking the clubhouse door open. Not only is the main character a girl, but the film was being written and directed by Brenda Chapman — the first time a Pixar film has had a woman directing — and she had written the film with her daughter in mind. No guarantees, but all promising signs.

Unfortunately, the rumor mill of the past few days seems to be indicating that not only is Brenda Chapman no longer directing Brave, but she has left Pixar entirely.

Crazy rumors floating into our offices this afternoon from reliable sources. We hear that Brenda Chapman, the first woman director at Pixar, has left the studio and is no longer directing Brave (previously titled The Bear and the Bow). We hear that she was pushed aside from full directing a while back, and that story artist Mark Andrews (who also co-directed the Pixar short “One Man Band”) has taken over directorial duties.

Disturbing to hear, and I’m very curious as to what happened to prompt this move. Obviously, there are a number of possible reasons, many of which will likely have little to nothing to do with any real or perceived sexism. Also, it’s entirely possible that Pixar may still be able to release a good, quality film with a strong female lead character, and I certainly hope that they do, no matter who ends up directing Brave. That said, losing (dismissing? firing?) their first woman director doesn’t bode well for finally losing the “boys club” impression.