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Blue Sky Studios

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Blue Sky Studios, Inc.
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryComputer animation
Motion pictures
PredecessorMAGI
Fox Animation Studios
FoundedFebruary 22, 1987; 34 years ago (1987-02-22)
Founders
  • Chris Wedge
  • Carl Ludwig
  • Eugene Troubetzkoy
  • Alison Brown
  • David Brown
  • Michael Ferraro
DefunctApril 10, 2021; 4 months ago (2021-04-10)
FateShut down due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on The Walt Disney Company[1]
Successor20th Century Animation
Headquarters
Greenwich American Center
Greenwich, Connecticut
,
U.S.
Key people
  • Robert Baird (Co-President)[2]
  • Andrew Millstein (Co-President)[3][4]
  • Brian Keane (COO)[5]
ProductsAnimated films
Number of employees
450[6] (2021)
Parent20th Century Animation
(Walt Disney Studios)
Websiteblueskystudios.com at the Wayback Machine (archived June 9, 2021) (now redirects to disney.com)

Blue Sky Studios, Inc. was an American computer animation film studio based in Greenwich, Connecticut. It was founded in 1987 by Chris Wedge, Michael Ferraro, Carl Ludwig, Alison Brown, David Brown, and Eugene Troubetzkoy after their employer, MAGI, one of the visual effects studios behind Tron, shut down. Using its in-house rendering software, the studio created visual effects for commercials and films before dedicating itself to animated film production. Its first feature, Ice Age, was released in 2002 by 20th Century Fox. It produced 13 feature films, the final one being Spies in Disguise, released on December 25, 2019.[7][8]

Blue Sky Studios was a subsidiary of 20th Century Animation until its acquisition by Disney, as part of their acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets in 2019. In February 2021, Disney announced that Blue Sky would be shut down in April 2021 citing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its business operations.[6][9] The studio ceased operating after April 10, 2021.

Ice Age and Rio were the studio's most commercially successful franchises, while Horton Hears a Who! and The Peanuts Movie were its most critically praised films.[10] Scrat, a character from Ice Age, was the studio's mascot.

History

1980–1989: Formation and early computer animation

In the late 1970s, Chris Wedge, then an undergraduate at Purchase College studying film, was employed by Mathematical Applications Group, Inc. (MAGI). MAGI was an early computer technology company which produced SynthaVision, a software application that could replicate the laws of physics to measure nuclear radiation rays for U.S. government contracts.[11]:12–13 At MAGI, Wedge met Eugene Troubetzkoy, who held a Ph.D in theoretical physics and was one of the first computer animators. Using his background in character animation, Wedge helped MAGI produce animation for television commercials, which eventually led to an offer from Walt Disney Productions to produce animation for the film Tron (1982). After Tron, MAGI hired Carl Ludwig, an electrical engineer,[11]:13 and Mike Ferraro transferred to the film division from the Cad Cam division of MAGI. As MAGI's success began to decline, the company employed David Brown from CBS/Fox Video to be a marketing executive and Alison Brown to be a managing producer.[11]:12–13 After MAGI was sold to Vidmax (Canada), the six individuals—Wedge, Troubetzkoy, Ferraro, Ludwig, David Brown, and Alison Brown—founded Blue Sky Studios in February 1987 to continue the software design and produce computer animation.[11]:13[12]

Logo used from 1987 to 2005
Logo used from 1987 to 2005

At Blue Sky, Ferraro and Ludwig expanded on CGI Studio, the studio programming language they started at MAGI and began using it for animation production.[11]:12–13 At the time, scanline renderers were prevalent in the computer graphics industry, and they required computer animators and digital artists to add lighting effects in manually;[11]:13 Troubetzkoy and Ludwig adapted MAGI's ray tracing,[13] algorithms which simulate the physical properties of light in order to produce lighting effects automatically.[11]:13–14 To accomplish this, Ludwig examined how light passes through water, ice, and crystal, and programmed those properties into the software.[11]:13 Following the stock market crash of 1987, Blue Sky Studios did not find their first client until about two years later: a company "that wanted their logo animated so it would be seen flying over the ocean in front of a sunset."[11]:13–14 In order to receive the commission, Blue Sky spent two days rendering a single frame and submitted it to the prospective client. However, once the client accepted their offer, Blue Sky found that they could not produce the entire animation in time without help from a local graphics studio, which provided them with extra computer processors.[11]:14

1989–2002: Television commercials, visual effects and Bunny

Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, Blue Sky Studios concentrated on the production of television commercials and visual effects for film. The studio began by animating commercials that depicted the mechanisms of time-release capsules for pharmaceutical corporations. The studio also produced a Chock Full O' Nuts commercial with a talking coffee bean and developed the first computer-animated M&M's.[11]:14 Using CGI Studio, the studio produced over 200 other commercials for clients such as Chrysler, General Foods, Texaco, and the United States Marines.[14] They made a cartoon bumper for Nicktoons that features an orange blob making a dolphin, a dinosaur, and a walking person.[15]

In 1996, MTV collaborated with Blue Sky Studios on the film Joe's Apartment, for which Blue Sky animated the insect characters. Other clients included Bell Atlantic, Rayovac, Gillette and Braun.[11]:14 The Braun commercial was awarded a CLIO Award for Advertising.[11]:14 Recalling the award, Carl Ludwig stated that the judges had initially mistaken the commercial as a live action submission as a result of the photorealism of the computer-animated razor.[13][16] In August 1997, 20th Century Fox's Los Angeles-based visual effects company, VIFX, acquired majority interest in Blue Sky Studios to form a new visual effects and animation company, temporarily renamed "Blue Sky/VIFX".[17] Following the studio's expansion, Blue Sky produced character animation for the films Alien Resurrection (1997), A Simple Wish (1997), Mouse Hunt (1997), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) and Fight Club (1999).[11]:15

Meanwhile, starting in 1990, Chris Wedge had been working on a short film named Bunny, intended to demonstrate CGI Studio. The film revolves around a rabbit widow who is irritated by a moth. The moth subsequently leads the rabbit into "a heavenly glow, reuniting her with her husband."[11]:15 At the time, Wedge had been the thesis advisor for Carlos Saldanha while Saldanha was a graduate student at the School of Visual Arts; Wedge shared storyboard panels for Bunny with Saldanha during this time. After Saldanha's graduation, Blue Sky Studios hired him as an animator, and he later directed a few commercials. It was not until 1996 when Nina Rappaport, a producer at Blue Sky Studios, assigned Wedge to complete the Bunny project, which required CGI Studio to render fur, glass, and metal from multiple light sources, such as a swinging light bulb and an "ethereal cloudscape". In the initial stages of the Bunny project, Carl Ludwig modified CGI Studio to simulate radiosity, which tracks light rays as they reflect off of multiple surfaces. Blue Sky Studios released Bunny in 1998, and it received the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Bunny's success gave Blue Sky Studios the opportunity to produce feature-length films.[11]:15

2002–2018: Feature films under 20th Century Fox

Blue Sky Studios' logo from 2005 to 2013
Blue Sky Studios' logo from 2005 to 2013

In March 1999, Fox decided to sell VIFX to another visual effects house, Rhythm & Hues Studios, while Blue Sky Studios would remain under Fox.[18] According to Chris Wedge, Fox considered selling Blue Sky as well by 2000 due to financial difficulties in the visual effects industry in general. Instead, Wedge, film producer Lori Forte, and animation executive Chris Meledandri presented Fox with a script for a comedy feature film titled Ice Age.[19] Studio management pressured staff to sell their remaining shares and options to Fox on the promise of continued employment on feature-length films. The studio moved to White Plains NY and started production on Ice Age. As the film wrapped, Fox feared that it might bomb at the box office. They terminated half of the production staff and tried unsuccessfully to find a buyer for the film and the studio.[citation needed] Instead, Ice Age was released by 20th Century Fox on March 15, 2002, and was a critical and commercial success, receiving a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003.[20] The film established Blue Sky as the third studio, after Pixar and DreamWorks Animation, to launch a successful CGI franchise.[19]

In January 2009, the studio moved from White Plains, New York to Greenwich, Connecticut, taking advantage of the state's 30 percent tax credit and having more space to grow.[21][22] The studio stated in April 2017 that it intended to stay in Connecticut until 2025.[23]

In 2013, Chris Wedge took a leave of absence to direct Paramount Animation's live-action/computer-animated film Monster Trucks.[24] He then returned to Blue Sky Studios and worked on multiple projects for the company, such as serving as an executive producer.[25]

2019–2021: Disney acquisition and closure

Ownership of Blue Sky Studios was assumed by The Walt Disney Company as part of their 2019 acquisition of 21st Century Fox,[26] which concluded on March 20, 2019.[27] On March 21, Disney announced that Blue Sky Studios and its parent company 20th Century Fox Animation (now 20th Century Animation) would be integrated as units within the Walt Disney Studios with co-presidents Andrea Miloro and Robert Baird continuing to lead the studio, while reporting to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn.[28] In July 2019, Miloro announced that she would be stepping down from her role as co-president, thus leaving Baird as sole president.[29]

In August 2019, former Walt Disney Animation Studios head Andrew Millstein was named as co-president of Blue Sky Studios alongside Baird, while Pixar Animation Studios president Jim Morris would also be taking a supervising role.[3][4]

On February 9, 2021, Disney announced that it would be closing Blue Sky Studios in April 2021. The company explained that in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic's continued economic impact on all of its businesses, it was no longer sustainable for them to run a third feature animation studio. In addition, production on a film adaptation of the webcomic Nimona,[30] originally scheduled to be released on January 14, 2022, was cancelled as a result of its closure. The studio's film library and intellectual properties are retained by Disney.[6][9] Although Disney did not give an exact date as to when the studio would be closing down initially, former animator Rick Fournier confirmed on April 10 it was their last day of operation,[31] three days after co-founder Chris Wedge released a farewell letter on social media.[32]

As of June 19, 2021, Blue Sky Studios' previous website now redirects to Disney.com.

Filmography

Feature films

# Title Release date Distributor/Co-production with Budget Gross RT MC
1 Ice Age March 15, 2002 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation
$59 million $383 million 77% 60
2 Robots March 11, 2005 $75 million $260 million 64% 64
3 Ice Age 2: The Meltdown March 31, 2006 $80 million $660 million 57% 58
4 Horton Hears a Who! March 14, 2008 $85 million $297 million 80% 71
5 Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs July 1, 2009 $90 million $886 million 46% 50
6 Rio April 15, 2011 $90 million $484 million 72% 63
7 Ice Age: Continental Drift July 13, 2012 $95 million $877 million 38% 49
8 Epic May 24, 2013 $93 million $268 million 65% 52
9 Rio 2 April 11, 2014 $103 million $500 million 48% 49
10 The Peanuts Movie November 6, 2015 $99 million $246 million 87% 67
11 Ice Age: Collision Course July 22, 2016 $105 million $408 million 18% 34
12 Ferdinand December 15, 2017 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation
Davis Entertainment
$111 million $296 million 72% 58
13 Spies in Disguise December 25, 2019 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation
Chernin Entertainment
$100 million $171 million 77% 54

Television specials

# Title Release date
1 Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas November 24, 2011
2 Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade March 20, 2016

Short films

# Title Release date
1 Bunny November 2, 1998
2 Gone Nutty November 26, 2002
3 Aunt Fanny's Tour of Booty September 27, 2005
4 No Time for Nuts November 21, 2006
5 Surviving Sid December 9, 2008
6 Scrat's Continental Crack-Up[33] December 25, 2010
7 Scrat's Continental Crack-Up: Part 2[33] December 16, 2011
8 Umbrellacorn[34][35] July 26, 2013
9 Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe[36] November 6, 2015
10 Scrat: Spaced Out[37][38] October 11, 2016

Contributions

Franchises

Titles Release dates Films
Ice Age 2002–2016 5
Rio 2011–2014 2

See also

References

  1. ^ Owusu, Tony. "Disney Closes Animator Blue Sky Studios Amid Cost Cuts". The Street. MSN. Archived from the original on May 18, 2021. Retrieved May 18, 2021. The move resulted from the losses the media group has posted amid the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
  2. ^ Kilday, Gregg (October 30, 2017). "Fox Animation Names Andrea Miloro, Robert Baird Co-Presidents". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Ryan, Faughnder (August 9, 2019). "Disney shuffles animation and Blue Sky studio ranks after Fox acquisition". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 22, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Lang, Brent (August 9, 2019). "Disney Taps Andrew Millstein, Clark Spencer for Top Animation Posts". Variety. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  5. ^ "Vanessa Morrison Re-Ups With Fox, Brian Keane With Blue Sky After 'Ice Age 4′". Deadline. July 18, 2012. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved July 19, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 9, 2021). "Disney Closing Blue Sky Studios, Fox's Once-Dominant Animation House Behind 'Ice Age' Franchise". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  7. ^ "'Spies in Disguise' Crew Gives Us An Exclusive Tour of Blue Sky Studios". theknockturnal.com. March 11, 2020. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  8. ^ "Spies In Disguise Coming Soon To Disney+ In The UK | What's On Disney Plus". August 14, 2020. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Giardina, Carolyn (February 9, 2021). "Disney Shutting Blue Sky Animation Studio". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 11, 2021. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  10. ^ Alfar, Paolo (March 6, 2020). "Top 10 Blue Sky Studios Movies, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes)". ScreenRant. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Friedman, Jake S. (2014). The Art of Blue Sky Studios. San Rafael, California: Insight Editions. ISBN 9781608873173.
  12. ^ Dumas, Timothy (October 2010). "Animation Domination". Greenwich Magazine. Archived from the original on May 6, 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Our Story: Blue Sky Studios". Blue Sky Studios. Blue Sky Studios. Archived from the original on October 21, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  14. ^ Ohmer, Susan (May 1, 1997). "Ray Tracers: Blue Sky Studios". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved September 29, 2006.
  15. ^ Nickelodeon Morphs Into NickRewind | NickRewind, retrieved March 31, 2020
  16. ^ Mellor, Louisa (July 14, 2016). "The 'Ice Age' franchise never would've happened without this movie". Business Insider. Business Insider. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  17. ^ "Imaginative Pix takes interest in Blue Sky". Variety. August 27, 1997. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  18. ^ Graser, Marc (March 3, 1999). "Fox to sell visual F/X division to R&H". Variety. Variety Media. Archived from the original on February 19, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Fritz, Ben (May 2, 2008). "Fox animation soars under Blue Sky". Variety. Variety Media. Archived from the original on June 28, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  20. ^ "The 75th Academy Awards, 2003". Oscars.org. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on April 17, 2018. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  21. ^ Strike, Joe (January 28, 2009). "Checking Out Blue Sky's New Connecticut Studio". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  22. ^ Zimmerman, Kevin (May 27, 2017). "Blue Sky Studios at 30: Moving beyond 'Ice Age'". Westfair Online. Archived from the original on April 23, 2020. Retrieved May 30, 2017. ...will be released on Dec. 15, followed by “Pigeon Impossible,” scheduled for Jan. 18, 2019.
  23. ^ McNary, Dave (April 7, 2017). "Fox's Blue Sky Studios Staying in Connecticut Through 2025". Variety. Variety Media. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  24. ^ Finke, Nikki (July 31, 2013). "Paramount Animation Plans 'Monster Trucks' Live Action-Toon Franchise: In Final Talks With Blue Sky's Chris Wedge To Direct". deadline.com. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
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  26. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (December 14, 2017). "Disney Deal Could Redraw Fox's Animation Business". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 15, 2017. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
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  29. ^ Keegan, Rebecca (July 25, 2019). "Fox Animation Co-President Andrea Miloro Stepping Down". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  30. ^ Amidi, Amid (July 10, 2017). "Patrick Osborne's Feature Directorial Debut 'Nimona' Gets 2020 Release Date". Cartoon Brew. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  31. ^ @Project813 (April 10, 2021). "A Blue Sky Studios' last day. The plug has been pulled, and we're all off to new adventures.  Best wishes to my Blue Sky family. #blueskystudios" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  32. ^ @blueskystudios (April 7, 2021). "A letter from Blue Sky Co-Founder, Chris Wedge. With the news of Blue Sky's closing, we send 34-years worth of gratitude and appreciation to our friends and fans throughout the world. 💙" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  33. ^ a b Debruge, Peter (June 28, 2012). "Ice Age: Continental Drift". Variety. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  34. ^ "Umbrellacorn (2013)". Blue Sky Studios. Archived from the original on June 10, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  35. ^ "Umbrellacorn". Rooftop Films. Archived from the original on July 6, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  36. ^ Truitt, Brian (November 6, 2015). "Sneak peek: Scrat heads to space for 'Ice Age' short". USA Today. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  37. ^ "Ice Age: Collision Course 4K Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. August 30, 2016. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
  38. ^ Ice Age Movies (August 30, 2016). "#IceAge #CollisionCourse is coming to Blu-ray & DVD Oct. 11 with all-new heroes, worlds and adventures! Here's your exclusive sneak peek at a Special Feature". Facebook. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
  39. ^ a b c d SGI (April 4, 2002). "Blue Sky Is Red Hot With Ice Age" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
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Further reading

  • Friedman, Jake S. (2014). The Art of Blue Sky Studios. San Rafael, California: Insight Editions. ISBN 9781608873173.

External links

This page was last edited on 30 August 2021, at 17:53
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