Blue Sky Studios — the animation studio behind Ice Age, Rio, and Spies in Disguise — will shutter doors in April, Deadline reports. This comes two years after Disney acquired Blue Sky’s parent company, 20th Century Studios. While it seemed like Disney would balance three animation branches (Disney Animation, Pixar, and Blue Sky) in the early days, the economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Disney to shut down Blue Sky. 450 employees will be affected, though Disney is reportedly working to find opportunities at other internal animation studios.
Blue Sky Studios was the only surviving branch of Fox Animation, after the original animation department shuttered in 2000. The computer animation studio studio started off creating animation and visual effects for commercials and films, including Fight Club and Star Trek: Insurrection, before they turned to theatrical animated features. Blue Sky’s first film was Ice Age, which eventually became a five movie $3.2 billion-grossing franchise. It is also responsible for Robots, Horton Hears a Who, and Ferdinand, among other titles.
While Blue Sky’s existing characters now belong to Disney — and may appear in future Disney projects, such as an animated Ice Age series for Disney Plus — the studio will no longer produce new movies. Production on the studio’s next project, the adaptation of Noelle Stevenson’s fantasy webcomic Nimona, has completely shut down and will no longer be released.