Even in a time when Disney reigned supreme when it came to feature-length animated films, other major movie studios made at least token forays to give the king some competition. Among them was 20th Century Fox, one of its animation divisions being Blue Sky Studios, founded in 1987 and headquartered in Connecticut. They made their animated film debut in 2002 with “Ice Age,” which became a franchise of its own. Other blockbusters under their belt include “Rio,” “Horton Hears a Who,” and “The Peanuts Movie.” Blue Sky was part of the big 2019 Disney acquisition of Fox, and unfortunately the House of Mouse has decided that they were technically superfluous.
The Hollywood Reporter tells us the rather glum news that Disney is putting the padlock on Blue Sky Studios effective this coming April. As a result, their ongoing development of a feature-length adaptation of a light novel is going to grind to a halt without any plans for completion. The explanation given by a Disney spokesperson for the impending closure is a grim reminder of “current economic realities.” While Disney could feasibly run as many animation divisions without friction in a normal world situation, the sheer damage the COVID-19 pandemic has done to the film industry has necessitated this action.
What is doubly heartbreaking however is that Blue Sky’s current project “Nimona” will be going straight to the dustbin following the closure. This animated movie only had 10 months of production left, with plans to release in 2022. Director Patrick Osborne had once won an Academy Award for “Feast,” a Disney animation short that screened ahead of “Big Hero 6” back in 2014. “Nimona” was originally slated for 2020, before Blue Sky and 20th Century Fox were folded into Disney.
Blue Sky Studios’ long-running “Ice Age” animated films have since gained a box office total of $6 billion across five movies. Their most critically acclaimed feature had been 2015’s “The Peanuts Movie,” while their last animation release, 2019’s “Spies in Disguise” starring the voice talents of Will Smith and Tom Holland, came out after the Disney acquisition. Around 450 animators and staff will be out on their ear when Blue Sky Studios closes its doors. Disney however will absorb all of their franchises as part of its massive media library.
Image courtesy of The DisInsider