The studio was owned by Fox until 2019 when the Walt Disney Co. acquired 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets in a deal valued at $71.3 billion. At the time, Walt Disney Animation Studios president Andrew Millstein joined Blue Sky as co-president alongside co-president Robert Baird; both will be leaving the company with the shutting of the studio. The studio also had roughly 450 employees.
“Given the current economic realities, after much consideration and evaluation, we have made the difficult decision to close filmmaking operations at Blue Sky Studios,” said a company spokesperson in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
The news was first reported on Deadline.
Since the acquisition, the future of Blue Sky had been in question, as Disney already houses Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, arguably the two biggest brands in feature animation.
In recent years, Blue Sky has produced animated features such as Ferdinand, The Peanuts Movie and Rio franchise, but Blue Sky’s most valuable property is its Ice Age franchise, which has earned more than $6 billion since the original 2002 animated feature debuted, spawning four sequels as well as several animated TV specials and shorts. Disney will maintain the rights to Blue Sky’s titles.
With the shutting of Blue Sky, its planned feature adaptation of the graphic novel Nimona will cease production. It was intended for a 2022 release, directed by Patrick Osborne, who won an Oscar for his 2014 Disney animated short Feast. Its most recent release, Spies in Disguise, based on Lucas Martell’s 2009 animated short Pigeon: Impossible and featuring a voice cast led by Will Smith and Tom Holland, quietly opened in late 2019 following the Disney acquisition.
Blue Sky was founded in 1987 just outside New York City by a small team that included Chris Wedge, the Oscar-winning director of the 1998 animated short Bunny as well as such features as Ice Age. The studio originally turned out commercials and other short-film work, moving into feature animation with Ice Age in 1999 following its acquisition by Fox.