Industry Breaking News: Disney is shutting down Blue Sky Studios, the animation studio that produced the Ice Age and Rio franchises.

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The animation studio history and development

Founded in February 1987 by Carl Ludwig, Chris Wedge, Alison Brown, Michael Ferraro, Dr. Eugene Troubetzkoy and David Brown, Blue Sky was one of the early CGI-focused animation studios as animation industry pioneer with peers like Pacific Data Images and Pixar in the 1980s.

There’s a story: an ad for an electric razor Blue Sky produced in 1992 was so real and convincing that judges refuse to grant an award as they thought the razor in that video was real and not a product of CGI.

Below is advertising video of the electric razor made by Blue Sky:

1992 Braun Flex Control

Blue Sky produced a wide variety of animation content, including vfx for films like Simple Wish, Alien Resurrection, and Fight Club and cg ads for Bell Atlantic, Rayovac, Gillettem and Braun and the animated insects for the hybrid 1996 film Joe’s Apartment.

After the first decade focusing on advertising and logos, Blue Sky chose another path which is animated film thanks to the Oscar-winning animated short film Bunny. The short film included surfaces such as fur, glass, and metal, which can’t be rendered as normal practice at that time.

Blue Sky released its first feature, Ice Age, in 2002. The animation studio scored a hit with Ice Age, which grossed $383 million worldwide.
After the mega success of Ice Age (2002), Blue Sky was quickly commissioned by 20th Century Fox. From then on, the studio focused exclusively on animated features. It produced 13 features since then. The studio’s five films included Ice Age, Spies in Disguise (2019), Robots, Epic, and Horton Hears A Who! all has grossed $3.2 billion globally.

Picture taken inside Blue Sky:

Sculpture Room

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Meeting Room

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The Big Kitchen

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The decision to shutdown the animation studio in time of pandemic

Blue Sky 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,” told a Disney spokesperson. The studio’s last day will be sometime in April 2021.

 

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Reference Sources:

  1. Animation World Network: https://www.awn.com/
  2. Cartoon Brew – Technology: https://www.cartoonbrew.com/tech
  3. Befores & Afters – Visual effects and animation journalist: https://beforesandafters.com/