The Walt Disney Studios announced Friday that it’s installing one of its own to run day-to-day operations at Fox’s Connecticut-based animation division, Blue Sky Studios (best known for the successful “Ice Age” franchise), as Disney works to realize its vision of discipline at the recently acquired Fox properties.
Walt Disney Animation Studios President Andrew Millstein will make a lateral move to Blue Sky, where he’ll serve as co-president, overseeing day-to-day operations alongside co-president Robert Baird, a carryover from the pre-merger days, who runs the creative side. They will both report to Walt Disney Studios’ Chief Creative Officer and Co-Chairman Alan Horn and Co-Chairman Alan Bergman.
Millstein, who’s been with Disney for more than two decades, replaces former Blue Sky co-president Andrea Miloro, who last month departed the studio.
Pixar Animation Studios President Jim Morris will be given an expanded role as Millstein’s supervisor at Blue Sky, and longtime creative executive and “Zootopia” producer Clark Spencer will take over for Millstein as Disney Animation president, reporting to Bergman and working alongside Disney Animation chief creative officer Jennifer Lee, who continues to report to Horn and Bergman.
Friday’s announcement corresponded to the vision outlined by Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger in his Q3 earnings call earlier this week of taking Fox in a “new direction … applying the same discipline and creative standards behind the success of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm,” with big movies in theaters and the rest on streaming.
But it’s still unclear exactly where Blue Sky fits into Disney’s bigger picture.
Iger said many Fox projects in development are on the chopping block, but in Tuesday’s announcement the company said Blue Sky was preparing to build out its upcoming film slate — signaling the studio’s future output could be headed to Disney+.
That’s where former big-screen Fox franchises “Home Alone,” “Night at the Museum,” “Cheaper by the Dozen,” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” will find a home.
Four of Blue Sky’s dozen features have crossed the $500 million worldwide gross mark. At $888.8 million, “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” was the highest grossing, but that might not be enough to guarantee a theatrical release for future “Ice Age” or “Rio” installments.
By contrast, Disney’s “Avengers: Endgame” grossed $1.94 billion this year. The company’s highest grossers last year included “Avengers: Infinity War” at $2 billion, “Black Panther” $1.35 billion, and “Incredibles 2” at $1.2 billion, according to Box Office Mojo.
Blue Sky’s next title set for theatrical release on December 25, “Spies in Disguise,” is a spy spoof voiced by Will Smith (“Gemini Man,” “Aladdin”) and Tom Holland (“Spider-Man: Far From Home”).
IndieWire reached out to Disney asking for clarification of Blue Sky’s future slate with Disney+ or continuing with theatricals.
Additional reporting by Bill Desowitz