Fox Animation Studios
|Defunct||June 26, 2000|
|Owner||21st Century Fox|
Number of employees
20th Century Fox Animation|
(20th Century Fox)
After the financially unsuccessful release of Sullivan Bluth Studios' film Thumbelina in 1994, animators Don Bluth and Gary Goldman were hired by Bill Mechanic, then-chairman of 20th Century Fox, to be the creative heads of the animation studio. Mechanic and John Matoian, President of Fox Family Films, also brought in Stephen Brain (Executive VP at Silver Pictures) as Senior VP/General Manager to oversee the startup of the studio and run day-to-day operations of the division.
The studio closed in 2000, after the financial failure of their third film, Titan A.E..
The company was designed to compete with Walt Disney Feature Animation, which had phenomenal success during the late 1980s and early 1990s with the releases of films such as The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992) and The Lion King (1994). Walt Disney Pictures veterans Bluth and Goldman came in 1994 to Fox from Sullivan Bluth Studios, which had produced The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, The Land Before Time, and both All Dogs Go To Heaven and Rock-a-Doodle, among other films.
Before Don Bluth came to Fox, the studio distributed three animated features during the 1990s which were produced by outside studios – FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Once Upon a Forest, and The Pagemaster, the last two of which were both commercial and critical failures. Even before, Fox distributed two Ralph Bakshi features, Wizards and Fire and Ice, and Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure by Richard Williams. Also, Fox distributed Asterix Conquers America in France and United Kingdom.
Productions and closure
Fox Animation Studios did not achieve the same level of success as Disney's animated crop. Only one of its two theatrical releases, Anastasia (1997), found critical and box-office success. Its other theatrical release Titan A.E. (2000) got mixed reviews and was a costly flop, losing $100 million for 20th Century Fox. Almost a year before Titan A.E., 20th Century Fox laid off 300 of the 380 people who worked at the Phoenix studio in order to "make films more efficiently." On June 26, 2000, the studio was shut down. Their last film set to be made would have been an adaptation of Wayne Barlowe's illustrated novel Barlowe's Inferno, and it was set to be done with near complete CGI.
Fox Animation Studios' only other productions were the PBS television series Adventures from the Book of Virtues, and the direct-to-video sequel to Anastasia, Bartok the Magnificent. Out of all the sequels and spinoffs based on existing Don Bluth properties, Bartok was the only of which to actually have Bluth and Goldman as directors.
- Bartok the Magnificent (1999)
- Adventures from the Book of Virtues (TV series) (1996–2000)
- The Prince of Egypt (1998) (additional final line animation)
- Bates, James (August 2, 1994). "Fox Animation Studio Will Be Built in Phoenix : Hollywood: Arizona entices the company with $1 million in job training funds and low-interest loans.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
- Kaye, Jeff (May 6, 1994). "Company Town - Fox Heats Up the Animation Wars - Movies: Heavyweight Don Bluth discusses the deal that will bring him and Gary Goldman home from Ireland.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
- Palmeri, Christopher (September 19, 2013). "Despicable Me 2 Producer Knows How to Win the Box Office". Bloomberg. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
- Lauria, Larry. "A Conversation With The New Don Bluth". Animation World Network. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
- Linder, Brian (June 27, 2000). "Fox Animation Studios Closes Its Doors". IGN. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
- Eller, Claudia (June 29, 2000). "20th Century Fox Closes Its Phoenix Animation Studio". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
- F. Duke, Paul (June 27, 2000). "Fox tooning out, closing Phoenix arm". Variety. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
- Snider, Mike (February 9, 2010). "Concept artist Wayne Barlowe on 'Dante's Inferno', Hell and video games". USA Today. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
- A. Schechter, Pamela (1996). "TV's Fall Animation Lineup". Animation World Network. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
- D. Johnson, Bruce (November 1, 1997). "PBS Special Report: Program profiles: Adventures From the Book of Virtues". Kidscreen. Archived from the original on April 20, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
Production begins with Fox Animation Studios in Phoenix.
- Felperin, Leslie. "The Prince of Egypt (1998)". Sight & Sound (January 1999). British Film Institute. Retrieved July 20, 2014.