Disney is closing the doors on Blue Sky Studios, the CG animation studio behind the Ice Age and Rio franchises it acquired in their 2019 purchase of 21st Century Fox assets. The studio, which employs approximately 450 people, is located Greenwich, Connecticut was the largest on the East Coast.
Speaking to Deadline, a Disney rep stated –
Given the current economic realities, after much consideration and evaluation, we have made the difficult decision to close filmmaking operations at Blue Sky Studios
Translation – Disney has been having a tough year due to covid impacting not just with its theatrical movie distribution business, but with its theme parks as well. And a third animation studio for the company after Walt Disney Animation and PIXAR just feels a bit too redundant from a corporate standpoint. Unfortunately, as their aren’t a large number of animation studios to begin with, even losing one makes a significant impact on the animation industry.
Although the studio had solid, moneymaking hits with the Ice Age and Rio franchises, their last feature release, Spies In Disguise featuring the voices of Will Smith and Tom Holland, fared poorly at the box office, only grossing $66 million at the domestically and $171 million worldwide.
Blue Sky was currently in production on Nimona, the story of a teen girl who discovers she has the ability to shapeshift and goes on to team up with a mad scientist named Lord Ballister Blackheart to expose the ruler of the kingdom.. That project, which was reportedly 10 months away from being finished, will be shelved incomplete. The previously announced Ice Age series for Disney+ will be handled by one of the other animation houses under the Disney umbrella.
Disney stated that many of Blu Sky’s employees have the opportunity to move to Disney’s other divisions, though for them that would necessitate a move cross-country to where the rest of them are based in California.
Past projects from the studio include Robots, The Peanuts Movie and Ferdinand.