The new slate includes four fully-animated features from Fox, as well as a live-action/cg hybrid, however, it also raises new questions about the long-term future of Fox’s animation activities now that it has been folded into Disney’s corporate structure.
The two Blue Sky Studios films that had previously been announced — Spies in Disguise and Nimona — have now been given definitive releases, though they have been pushed back from their previously-announced dates.
Disney has not announced any Blue Sky titles beyond Nimona in 2021, which creates uncertainty about how (or if) they will integrate the Greenwich, Connecticut-based Blue Sky into the Disney brand. The waiting game about the studio’s future will continue for the time being.
In addition to those two films, Disney also announced that it would release two more previously-announced fully-animated features: a feature adaptation of the Fox tv series Bob’s Burgers and Ron’s Gone Wrong from the U.K.’s Locksmith Animation.
Ron’s Gone Wrong was originally to be directed by Alessandro Carloni and now directed by Pixar and Aardman vet J.P. Vine. It was intended to be the first of multiple features that Locksmith would produce for Fox (one of Locksmith’s co-founders is Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of former Fox chief Rupert Murdoch), however Disney has not announced any other Locksmith titles beyond this initial film. Double Negative is producing the animation for Ron’s Gone Wrong.
The cg/live-action hybrid that Disney picked up from its Fox takeover is Call of the Wild, which will mark the live-action debut of Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch, How to Train Your Dragon). The film stars Harrison Ford.
What all of these films have in common is that they were well on their way to being made at the time that Disney acquired Fox. It’s not clear yet whether Disney will put the full weight of its marketing behind any of the releases, or simply do the bare minimum to get the films out there, as it did with Strange Magic, which came from its Lucasfilm acquisition.
Here are the release dates for the five films:
- December 25, 2019: Spies in Disguise (Blue Sky)
- February 21, 2020: Call of the Wild (hybrid cg/live-action)
- July 17, 2020: Bob’s Burgers
- November 6, 2020: Ron’s Gone Wrong (Locksmith Animation)
- March 5, 2021: Nimona (Blue Sky)