Disney is shutting down Greenwich, Connecticut Blue Sky Studios, the largest animation studio on the East Coast of the United States. The studio, which produced the Ice Age and Rio franchises, as well as films like Ferdinand, The Peanuts Movie, and Spies in Diguise, was one of the companies that Disney acquired in its purchase of 21st Century Fox assets.
“Given the current economic realities, after much consideration and evaluation, we have made the difficult decision to close filmmaking operations at Blue Sky Studios,” a Disney spokesperson told Deadline this morning. The studio’s last day will be sometime in April.
According to Deadline’s report, approximately 450 employees will be impacted by the shutdown. Disney says that it will consider those employees for open positions at other studios, though all of its other studios are based thousands of miles away on the West Coast.
The film that Blue Sky had in current production, Patrick Osborne’s Nimona, will halt production and no longer be completed, according to Deadline. The film reportedly had 10 months of production left and had been dated for release on January 14, 2022.
Osborne, who was the officially announced director but was replaced by others last year, shared the following comment on the studio’s closure:
Truly heartbroken for Blue Sky – There is an incredible amount of talent in the studio. They were working on some wonderful things.
— Patrick Osborne (@PatrickTOsborne) February 9, 2021
The existence of Blue Sky has been a big question mark ever since it became known that Disney would take over its ownership. Following Disney’s acquisition, key Blue Sky management like Brian Keane left the company, while Disney and Pixar execs took charge, but the Disney Company’s silence about the company indicated that they weren’t keen on continuing operations.
Last month, there was a momentary glimmer of hope that Blue Sky would continue after Disney announced a new Ice Age series for Disney+, but it’s now clear that the series won’t be produced at Blue Sky.
Blue Sky Studios was founded in February 1987 by Alison Brown, David Brown, Michael Ferraro, Carl Ludwig, Dr. Eugene Troubetzkoy, and Chris Wedge. It was formed by ex-crew of MAGI/Synthavision, a visual effects studio that ironically fell apart after Disney decided not to use its services for the production of The Brave Little Toaster.
Prior to its first feature, Ice Age, released in 2002, Blue Sky produced a wide variety of animation content, including cg ads for Bell Atlantic, Rayovac, Gillettem and Braun, the animated insects for the hybrid 1996 film Joe’s Apartment, vfx for films like Simple Wish, Alien Resurrection, and Fight Club, and the Oscar-winning animated short Bunny.
After Blue Sky scored a hit with Ice Age, which grossed $383 million worldwide, the company switched it focus exclusively to animated features. In a 17-year period, it produced 13 features, with its last release being Spies in Disguise, released in December 2019. The studio’s other films, which included Robots, Epic, and Horton Hears A Who!, in addition to ones mentioned earlier, never reached the heights of the Ice Age juggernaut, which has grossed $3.2 billion globally over five films, but the company’s films were popular enough for Fox to keep the company running.
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