Blue Sky plans relocation

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Blue Sky Studios, the digital animation production company best known for its successful "Ice Age" franchise, is planning a move from White Plains, N.Y., to Greenwich, Conn.

The wholly owned subsidiary of Fox Filmed Entertainment intends to relocate about 300 employees later this year after renovating a new 105,000-square-foot space in Greenwich, which is close to the company's current location and to New York.

Key drivers for the move are recently passed production tax credits and DECD incentives. Under the new program, production companies are eligible for tax credits of up to 30% on production expenses or costs incurred within the state.

The opportunity to re-establish the studio and crew on one contiguous floor, combined with the competitive tax program, made Connecticut the logical choice for Blue Sky, according to company COO/CFO Brian Keane. Over the course of eight years, Blue Sky -- which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2007 -- has expanded from one floor in its current White Plains location to what is now three floors scattered throughout the building.

The company's next release is "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" starring Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, due to open in March. A third "Ice Age" film is in production and will be a digital 3-D release slated for July 1, 2009.

Keane said the new facility will feature expanded capabilities to accommodate the stereoscopic 3-D production pipeline, which will include additional workstations and rendering technology.

"Bringing a company of Blue Sky's caliber to Connecticut is not only an economic coup but triumphant proof that efforts to strengthen our position as a leading venue for film, digital and television production are paying real dividends," Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell said. "Shaping our economy for success in the 21st century and increasing the number of jobs in Connecticut have always been top goals for my administration."

Said Connecticut Speaker of the House Jim Amann: "The decision of Blue Sky Studios to move to Connecticut is a wonderful development as we continue to build the media industry in the state. With our incentives, creative talent and proximity to New York City, we have the potential to add billions of dollars to Connecticut's economy."

Prompted by the tax incentives, New York-based visual effects facility Rhinofx opened a satellite base in November in Stamford, Conn.

Blue Sky's feature credits also include "Robots." In 1998, the studio won an Oscar for its short film "Bunny."
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