Blue Sky Studios burst onto the animation scene in 2002 when its debut feature Ice Age earned over $380million at the worldwide box office and amassed a string of fairly positive reviews. The studio had actually been around since 1987 having spent the previous 15 years working as a special effects production house and music video producer, but after being bought out by 20th Century Fox in 1997, Blue Sky shifted direction to become one of the conglomerate’s most trustworthy sources of original material, amassing a total of 12 films in 16 years, including 4 Ice Age sequels. In this edition of Ranked, we’ll take you through each of them, ordering the films from worst to best.
As always, feel free to share your opinions in the comments below!
12. Ice Age: Collision Course (2016)
Worldwide Box Office: $408.6million
Starring: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Stephanie Beatriz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Adam Devine, Max Greenfield, Jessie J, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Offerman, Keke Palmer, Josh Peck, Simon Pegg, Seann William Scott, Michael Strahan, Wanda Sykes
In making less than half of the $877million its predecessor made, Ice Age: Collision Course is likely the final ever instalment of the central Ice Age franchise as such huge drop-offs are usually the death knell for any given saga at a studio, even when said studios are built around the story in the way Blue Sky is built around Sid, Manny and Diego. Unfortunately, this means the series will go out with a whimper, as Collision Course was a shallow and perhaps even hollow presentation of the characters, voices and animation that the studio had so wonderfully delivered in its past. Blue Sky finally reached the bottom of the creative barrel with this one, offering by far their poorest release to date.
11. Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)
Worldwide Box Office: $877million
Starring: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Aziz Ansari, Peter Dinklage, Drake, Nick Frost, Josh Gad, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Keke Palmer, Josh Peck, Simon Pegg, Seann William Scott, Patrick Stewart, Wanda Sykes, Alan Tudyk, Rebel Wilson
Ice Age 4 (Continental Drift) marked an important moment for Blue Sky Studios as the film came in the height of the studio’s popularity and their central franchise’s popular appeal, yet on the cusp of their downward trend. It was, officially, the second highest grossing movie in the history of the studio, yet it can be seen so clearly to define the very reason as to why Blue Sky has struggled to bring audiences to their movies in the years since. Continental Drift was the first sign of the studio beginning to lose creative credibility, turning to another sequel to bring audiences back to their product in the name of money. This time however, there wasn’t such universal appeal to the film as had occurred elsewhere; an issue that turned a lot of audiences away from the franchise following this film’s release. To adults, Ice Age had finally begun to suffer from accidental self-parody, one of the least respectable traits any film/franchise can adopt. It was better than Ice Age 5 because it held a sense of nostalgia for the characters and their journeys, but Continental Drift still only ranks at number 11, in the 2nd lowest position on this list.
10. Rio 2 (2014)
Worldwide Box Office: $500million
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Bruno Mars, Jamie Foxx, Kristin Chenoweth, Andy Garcia, George Lopez, Jermaine Clement, Will.i.am, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro
In looking to capitalise on their critically and financially successful original movie Rio, Blue Sky went back to their characters to give the same sequel treatment they had given to Ice Age, offering the central couple a family for the adult members of their audience to identify with. Though this had been developed to huge success in Ice Age 2, Rio 2 didn’t have the same level of box office boost the majority of sequels usually have and thus became a somewhat forgotten title in the Blue Sky filmography, a problem unaided by the lack of creativity in the writing room and a loss of Brazilian energy in the overall picture.
9. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)
Worldwide Box Office: $886.7million
Starring: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Simon Pegg, Chris Wedge, Karen Disher, Josh Peck, Seann William Scott, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Joey King, Jane Lynch
By the time the Ice Age franchise had reached this, the third instalment in its now 5-film-long saga, it had become clear that there was money to be had. What Dawn of the Dinosaurs proved was that there was perhaps more money than even the studio could anticipate, with the film going on to earn over $886million globally – the highest gross of any Blue Sky Studios release to date. On the screen, the story was quite different, with the addition of Simon Pegg – fresh off success in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Mission: Impossible III, and heading into Star Trek – having little effect on the dwindling quality of the franchise. It was clear that, in exploring the hollow Earth theory that would bring Dinosaurs back to the universe despite the central cast fighting off two extinction events previously, Blue Sky had sought to retroactively fix the relative speed at which they presented pre-historic earth, which reaked of bad decision making and a lack of foresight that would leave this film feeling more like a cash grab than any of the movies the studio had released beforehand with seemingly more care and affection. It’s not that this film was necessarily really bad, it’s more that it was lacking the feeling of being genuine, to children and adults alike, leaving it at a relatively low number 9.
8. Robots (2005)
Worldwide Box Office: $260.7million
Starring: Robin Williams, Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Chris Wedge, Amanda Bynes, Mel Brooks, Jennifer Coolidge, Jim Broadbent, Drew Carey, Greg Kinnear, Stanley Tucci, Paul Giamatti, Lucille Bliss, Paula Abdul, James Earl Jones, Jay Leno, Al Roker
Blue Sky’s 2005 outing Robots is an oft-forgotten cg-animated release despite starring the incomparable Robin Williams alongside some of the era’s most beloved and talented actors. This was likely due to the movie’s adequate, but generally bland, central story that failed to live up to the work being done at other studios at the time, with the unusual design of the characters and style of animation further separating the movie from the typical must-see type of animated movie from the era.
7. Epic (2013)
Worldwide Box Office: $268.5million
Starring: Beyoncé, Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Pitbull, Aziz Ansari, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler, Christoph Waltz, Chris O’Dowd, Blake Anderson, Judah Friedlander
With a title like Epic and a $100million production budget (the 3rd highest in the studio’s history), Blue Sky had a lot to live up to with this 2013 release. All of the pieces seemed to be in place, including some of the most dynamic and vibrant animation the studio has ever produced and a cast that was filled with stars likely to appeal to people of all ages, yet the movie didn’t quite hit in the way that other 2013 hits Monsters University, Despicable Me 3 and particularly Frozen did, and this was largely due to its less imaginative story. Even so, the movie did carry a charm that hit well with the audiences that did see it, and while it may be one of the less memorable Blue Sky releases, it certainly holds up as a fairly good watch.