The defection of Don Bluth and like-minded colleagues from Disney in 1979 is a well-worn story in Hollywood animation. Less has been said about a chapter in Bluth’s career that followed soon after: his years in Ireland, where he made films like The Land Before Time, All Dogs Go to Heaven, and Thumbelina.
This story is told in a new episode of the podcast Meet Your Maker, which is currently chronicling the history of Irish animation in a mini-series. Host Liam Geraghty has good access, securing interviews with Bluth and fellow Disney defectors Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy. Crucially, he also speaks to a range of Irish animators and executives who joined Dublin’s new Sullivan Bluth Studios in the 1980s, thrilled by Hollywood’s sudden presence in their community. Listen to the podcast here.
The podcast paints the backdrop to Bluth’s move, noting that the Irish government attracted his studio with the biggest grant it had ever offered a non-manufacturing company. We also learn that this public money was not matched by other investors, leading to a lack of equity that seeded the studio’s downfall.