Once upon a time, there was a little studio called MAGI/Synthavision. In 1987, having completed some of the effects on the ground-breaking Disney film TRON and some CG animation for commercials, an employee named Chris Wedge gathered a bunch of his co-workers and formed a studio of his own. They produced some effects for live-action films like Joe's Apartment, Fight Club and Alien: Resurrection, along with their first short film Bunny, which Wedge directed. In the wake of the CG cartoon movement (Pixar had released A Bug's Life a year before Bunny was awarded Best Animated Short in the Oscars), the studio just happened to be bought by 20th Century Fox to help fish them out of their failing 2-D feature animation unit. And the rest is prehistory.
Ice Age was the film that made Blue Sky Studios a major competitor in the animated feature film industry, and they have released around one new animated film every two years since. Their existence has also helped boost the morale in the pretty dismal animation circle of the northeast United States, as they are the only feature animation studio in the region, having used to originally located in White Plains, New York before moving under a mile across the state border to Greenwich, Connecticut for the tax breaks. They are notable for being one of the first studios to use raytrace rendering in feature films. They are also known for using more naturalistic lighting design than other studios, depending completely on sculpture maquettes to create the 3D forms of their characters, and utilizing cartoon squash-and-stretch more frequently in their later features. Chris Wedge directed their first films, and continues to executive produce many of their later ones.
Following The Walt Disney Company's acquisition of 20th Century Fox, questions arose concerning Blue Sky Studios' continued existence considering the company's ownership of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar and Blue Sky's own history of mixed critical reception combined with the declining popularity of their Flagship Franchise. However, the studio will continue to operate as normal (as will other animation units owned by Fox), a statement that was further justified at CinemaCon 2019. On October 2019, it's been rumored that Blue Sky Studios is making spin-offs of Ice Age and Rio for Disney+.
Films made by Blue Sky Studios:
- Bunny (1998)
- Ice Age (2002)
- Robots (2005)
- Aunt Fanny's Tour of Booty (2005)
- Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! (2008)
- Rio (2011)
- Rio 2 (2014)
- Epic (2013)
- The Peanuts Movie (2015)
- Ferdinand (2017)
- Spies in Disguise (2019)
- Nimona (January 14, 2022): Based on the webcomic/graphic novel of the same name.
The studio has plans for a third Rio film as well as film adaptions of the comic strip Mutts and Dugald Steer's Alienology series, though these films have not been dated. The studio at one point also had plans to adapt the video game Spore, though no news has come of this since its initial announcement. A film titled Anubis was originally planned for 2018, but it was removed from the schedule for unknown reasons.
Tropes present in their work:
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Averted. While the majority of their films are rated PG, they do intentionally aim for the G rating on certain films, with the first Rio being re-edited before its release to bring it down to that rating.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The Bunny short and the first Ice Age film are both far more somber and moody than much of their later work, which tends to follow the snarky, pop-culture heavy comedy style that was popularized by DreamWorks Animation in the early 2000s. The Peanuts Movie and Epic are exceptions.
- Plucky Comic Relief: At least one in every film they've done so far, with Ice Age's Scrat becoming the studio's mascot.
- Scenery Porn