"After twenty-five incredible years, I’ve decided to leave Pixar. The time has come for new adventures," he tweeted.
He began as an editor on "Toy Story," then went on to co-direct some of the company’s early hits, including "Toy Story 2," "Monsters Inc." and "Finding Nemo. He made his solo directorial debut with "Toy Story 3."
Unkrich told The Hollywood Reporter, "I'm not leaving to make films at another studio; instead, I look forward to spending much-needed time with my family and pursuing interests that have long been back-burnered."
According to THR, the departure is amicable, unlike that of his mentor, John Lasseter, who left the company after allegations of sexual misconduct. (Lasseter took a new job at Skydance Animation, a decision that's sparked criticism, considering the circumstances under which he left Pixar.)
Pixar's chief creative officer Pete Docter had nothing but praise for Unkrich, saying: "Lee arrived at Pixar as we were crafting 'Toy Story,' and he’s had a profound effect on all Pixar films since... His artistry and expert craftsmanship as an editor and co-director became a major reason for the high quality of our filmmaking, and as Lee went on to direct, his ability to find the deep humor and emotion enabled him to create some of the strongest films we’ve made."
Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said, “Lee has left an indelible mark on the world of film, and we are so grateful for the passion and talent he has brought to each movie he has worked on. He’ll always be part of the Disney-Pixar family, and we will miss him."