You just can't compare Lasseter whose studio produced great animated movies to Walt who revolutionized not only the animation or the film industry but the entertainment industry in general.
The same can be said about John Lasseter. With Pixar, he revolutionized the animation industry. In the 1980's he already suggested computers being used to help develop animated features and Disney canned him for even daring to bring it up. They feared animators would be put out of work. So Lasseter and a handful of others start a small production company called Pixar and they start making shorts and commercials. It has to be said, without the money and confidence of Steve Jobs they wouldn't have made it (Jobs kept investing year after years, although the studio was losing millions of dollars).
Lasseter was the artistic compass. When they struck a deal with Disney to produce a feature lenght film, Disney wanted Toy Story
to be a completely different story, with 'edgy', 'adult' and 'sarcastic' humor, but it didn't work. Lasseter rewrote the story the way he wanted it and the movie became a smash hit. He fought tooth and nail to keep Disney from bringing out direct-to-video sequels of Pixar's films and refused to sell the rights to the characters to Disney. Lasseter could have made millions of dollars very easy, but he rather protected the artistic integrity of his films.
This is all from the documentary The Pixar Story
(2007). You should watch it. I could see a lot of simlarities between the visionary Walt Disney and John Lasseter, including never being satisfied with what they have accomplished, but always pushing his animators harder to become better at what they do --the same Walt used to do.
Owning the company and being the "boss" is not an excuse to treat your artists and employees this way or proclaiming "creative freedom" and wanting artists with a vision who can break storytelling boundaries etc when you really want is for them to merely execute your vision. Chapman's and Sanford's treatment are great examples of this.
Well, it's not that different from what Walt used to do. He would have Bill Peet work out a complete script and storyboard for Jungle Book
and then come in, look at it, throw it all away and let him start from scratch. Peet's dark, but faithful adaptation was turned into a light-hearted tale that Walt wanted. And the one time Walt didn't get involved in a feature and relied entirely on his team, they turned out a real stinker called The Sword in the Stone
It's not only Bruce Smith, but a lot of directors and artists, including Glen who is now pondering to leave Disney, have praised John Lasseter when he first came to run WDAS. And not unworthily, since he did improve the product Disney was producing. However, a lot of people became quickly disillusioned with Lasseter's managing strategies. It's not a coincidence that a lot of Disney and Pixar artists are fleeing to DreamWorks.
Artists have been leaving animation studios and joining others for decades. I don't get why this is such a big deal. Bill Melendez left Disney to work for Warner Bros.; Art Babbitt went to UPA, a studio formed by former Disney employees; Bill Tytla moved to TerryToons; Don Bluth left to form his own studio; Eric Golberg has done work for Warner Bros. but returned to Disney.
I'm beginning to think every excuse to bash Lasseter/Pixar on this board is good enough. Almost every thread seems to end up in Lasseter-bashing.