Fox Animation Studios
|Division of 20th Century Fox|
Number of employees
|Parent||20th Century Fox Animation|
After the bankruptcy of Ireland-based Sullivan Bluth Studios in 1994, animators Don Bluth and Gary Goldman returned to the United States and 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 released three animated features during the 1990s which were produced by outside studios – FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Once Upon a Forest, and The Pagemaster, the latter 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.
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. 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" and on June 27, 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 two direct-to-video sequels to Anastasia and FernGully, Bartok the Magnificent and FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue. 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.
- Adventures from the Book of Virtues (TV series) (1996–2000)
- The Prince of Egypt (1998) (additional final line animation)
- Kaye, Jeff (1994-05-06). "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 2011-01-08.
- Lauria, Larry. "A Conversation With The New Don Bluth". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
- Linder, Brian (2000-06-27). "Fox Animation Studios Closes Its Doors". IGN. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
- Eller, Claudia (2000-06-29). "20th Century Fox Closes Its Phoenix Animation Studio". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
- Snider, Mike (2010-02-09). "Concept artist Wayne Barlowe on 'Dante's Inferno', Hell and video games". USA Today. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
- Felperin, Leslie. "The Prince of Egypt (1998)". Sight & Sound (January 1999) (British Film Institute). Retrieved July 20, 2014.