Disney is shutting down its Oscar-winning animation house behind the Ice Age and Rio franchises in order to cope with the pandemic’s financial impact, Kidscreen has confirmed.
COVID-19 has hurt Disney’s studio, theme park and cruise line business, in particular. In its 2020 fiscal report, the House of Mouse confirmed a 6% revenue drop and losses of US$7.4 billion. Also operating Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar, Disney determined that continuing to run former Fox subsidiary Blue Sky as a third feature animation hub was no longer viable.
The Greenwich, Connecticut-based studio is set to close in April. Roughly 450 Blue Sky employees will be laid off, but some could potentially find roles in Disney’s other animation divisions.
Over more than 30 years in business, Blue Sky has produced 13 family-friendly feature films, including Robots, The Peanuts Movie, Horton Hears A Who!, Rio, Ferdinand and its final project Spies in Disguise, which premiered in December 2019. The studio is best known for its work on the five-film Ice Age franchise (pictured), which has grossed more than US$3 billion worldwide and spawned an expansive licensing and merchandising program.
Shortly before the announcement, long-time Blue Sky COO and EVP Brian Keane departed to join Nickelodeon Animation Studios as EVP of production and operations.