Feature Film

Karen Disher Set To Be First Woman Director At Blue Sky Studios

Blue Sky Studio’s 15th animated feature, Foster (working title), was announced on Monday. Notably, it will be the Connecticut-based studio’s first feature film to be directed by a woman.

Karen Disher, 45, will co-direct the film with Steve Martino (The Peanuts Movie). Disher has been an important long-term member of the Blue Sky creative team, having worked in the story department on nine of the studio’s features, including head of story on Rio. She’s also directed the shorts Surviving Side and Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas.

Prior to Blue Sky, Disher had plenty of directing experience in television at MTV Animation, where she was the supervising director of Daria and its tv movie spinoffs. She was also the character designer who established the final look of the series.

Foster will be Fox Animation/Blue Sky’s first musical project, and will feature songs by La La Land lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The duo more recently wrote the songs for The Greatest Showman and the upcoming Disney remake of Aladdin. Tim Federle (Ferdinand) is scripting the original idea, and Marc Platt (La La Land) produces.

According to Variety, which first reported on the film, Foster follows “a young super fan who isn’t satisfied with the ending to a series of fantasy books [and] after he seeks out the author to voice his displeasure, the pair finds themselves transported into a mystical world.”

Fox Animation is stressing the film’s originality. The division’s co-president Robert Baird told Variety, “We’ve tasked Pasek and Paul with doing a different kind of animated musical and to create something that’s never been done before. We want to make our characters sing in a different way.”

Foster is currently slated to arrive in theaters on March 5, 2021. Two other Blue Sky films will be released ahead of it: Spies in Disguise (Jan. 18, 2019) and Nimona.

It remains unclear how the the Walt Disney Company’s impending purchase of 21st Century Fox could affect Blue Sky. If that deal goes through, it could potentially put a halt to some of these productions.

“We’re keeping our heads down,” Baird told Variety. “We’re aware of what’s happening in the world, but we don’t have time to think much about it. It’s all we can do to keep our eye on the ball and make great movies.”