The chips have fallen: The Walt Disney Co., which acquired Blue Sky Studios as part of its $71.3 billion buy up of 20th Century Fox in 2019, is officially shuttering the Greenwich, Connecticut animation shop, founded in 1987. Blue Sky had grossed $5.9 billion for Fox across 13 CGI-animated feature films, including the blockbuster Ice Age and Rio franchises, sci-fi hit Robots, Oscar-nominated Ferdinand and bodyswap buddy comedy Spies in Disguise, released nine months after the Disney-Fox merger.
The studio had slated Noelle Stevenson graphic novel adaptation Nimona, directed by Oscar winner Patrick Osborne (Feast), for a 2022 release. Production has halted and the film, which had 10 months of work ahead according to Deadline, will not be released. An unnamed studio spokesperson told the outlet: “Given the current economic realities, after much consideration and evaluation, we have made the difficult decision to close filmmaking operations at Blue Sky Studios.”
Blue Sky’s doors will officially close in April. Disney will reportedly work with the 450 employees affected to explore open positions at other internal studios, such as Walt Disney Animation, Pixar and 20th Century Animation.
Blue Sky Studios was founded by Chris Wedge, Michael Ferraro, Carl Ludwig, Alison Brown, David Brown and Eugene Troubetzkoy when their previous employer, tech and VFX house MAGI, shut down. The studio went from commercial work to creating the animated roaches in Joe’s Apartment (1996). After receiving a majority stake investment from 20th Century Fox’s VIFX in 1997, Blue Sky created animated characters for films like Alien Resurrection, Fight Club and Star Trek: Insurrection, before Wedge’s Oscar-winning CG-animated short Bunny rocketed the studio into feature animation.
Blue Sky Studios feature films:
- Ice Age (2002), director Chris Wedge | Box office: $383M
- Robots (2005), Wedge | $260M
- Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), Carlos Saldanha | $660M
- Horton Hears A Who! (2008), Jimmy Hayward & Steve Martino | $297M
- Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009), Saldanha | $886M
- Rio (2011), Saldanha | $484M
- Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), Martino & Michael Thurmeier | $877M
- Epic (2013), Wedge | $268M
- Rio 2 (2014), Saldanha | $500M
- The Peanuts Movie (2015), Martino | $246M
- Ice Age: Collision Course (2016), Thurmeier | $408M
- Ferdinand (2017), Saldanha | $296M
- Spies in Disguise (2019), Troy Quane & Nick Bruno | $171M