6. Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who! (2008)
Worldwide Box Office: $297million
Starring: Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Selena Gomez, Carol Burnett, Seth Rogen, Isla Fisher, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jonah Hill, Dan Fogler, Jaime Pressley, Jesse McCartney, Joey King, Ariel Winter
The back catalogue of Dr. Seuss books from which to make enticing and interesting movies from is certainly large and filled to the brim with originality, so when Dr. Seuss’ widow Audrey Geizel said she would never allow another live-action adaptation to be made again following the release of the ill-fated Mike Myers starring The Cat in the Hat (2004), animated film producers could be heard salivating all across North America… probably.
Blue Sky got their hands on the rights to Horton Hears A Who! and released the movie in 2008 following much anticipation. The result was a fun and very different animated movie that may not have captured the experience children have reading the book for the first time, but certainly stood up as a solid animation movie entry for the year as well as Blue Sky overall. In pairing two of the biggest comedy stars of the time, Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, and backing them up with a selection of rising stars including Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Will Arnett, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who! had a lot going for it behind the scenes too, establishing it as a noteworthy release for the studio that just misses out on the top 5 in this list.
5. Ferdinand (2017)
Worldwide Box Office: $296million
Starring: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez, Carlos Saldanha, David Tennant, Bobby Cannavale, Anthony Anderson, Gabriel Iglesias, Jarod Carmichael, Daveed Diggs
This Blue Sky entry about a big ol’ bull from Spain was one that may have stumbled through its opening act, but it was a film that absolutely grabbed the hearts of everyone who saw it from there on out.
The John Cena-led voice cast leant an innocence to the voice of the picture, which itself was filled with a positivity in-keeping with the very mantra of being a film aimed at families. Its over-arching message of love, patience and family above all else was one true to the ideals of Blue Sky’s very first picture Ice Age and in many ways echoed that film as a modern, well-designed animated feature filled with laughs and, more importantly, reasons to care about the characters. This was a lot of fun, and a deserving Best Animated Feature nominee at the Oscars in 2018; a truly memorable outing from a studio with a number of well-received releases.
4. Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)
Worldwide Box Office: $661million
Starring: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Chris Wedge, Josh Peck, Seann William Scott, Jay Leno, Alan Tudyk, Will Arnett, Ariel Winter
$80million may seem like a lot for an animated movie, but when your predecessor turned just $59million into $383million and Disney/Pixar have been making $200million animated features for a decade or more, it seems like Blue Sky/Fox got Ice Age 2 (The Meltdown) for a snip. Factor in the $661million return at the global box office and it’s clear as to what a huge success the film was with audiences too, the majority of whom ate up the typical sequel formula of doing everything the original did only bigger. Ice Age: The Meltdown was exactly what a sequel should be in that sense – it captured the essence of the original and played with ideas regarding the universe the first movie had set up – but, much like a lot of sequels in the wider film sphere, The Meltdown did suffer from recreating some of the more popular moments and losing just a drop of the first movie’s originality and sense of heart, placing it at number 4 on this list.
3. Rio (2011)
Worldwide Box Office: $484.6million
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, Rodrigo Santoro, Jermaine Clement, George Lopez, Leslie Mann, Tracy Morgan, Jane Lynch, Wanda Sykes, Judah Friedlander
Set in emerging Brazil’s most iconic city, Rio de Janeiro, Blue Sky continued their tradition of rendering some of the most aesthetically pleasing animations in the genre by marrying the city’s real-life battle between its urban landscape and the encroaching wild to their 2011 release Rio. What was perhaps the most creative aspect of the film was the way in which they did so through a tale centring on the only creature in the vicinity that could possibly cross the fresh-hold between rainforest and urban slums, the bird. Voiced by Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, the birds of paradise at the centre of the film’s self-discovery/romance story arc were used effectively to tell the wider tale of Brazil and particularly Rio de Janeiro, but they were also selected for having an incredible visual appeal that fitted with the movie’s overall colourful glow and energetic presentation.
Some of the most enjoyable aspects of this film are contained within the picture’s presentation of a unified city celebrating the colourful and bouncy nature of its country, yet with as many side characters to laugh at as you’d expect from an animated film and a story that works effectively despite its generic formula, Rio is the sort of movie that children and adults can enjoy for vastly different reasons, yet enjoy all the same.
2. The Peanuts Movie (2015)
Worldwide Box Office: $246.2million
Starring: Bill Melendez, Noah Schnapp, Kristin Chenoweth,
Praised for its close relationship to its much beloved source material and the manner in which Blue Sky animated the movie in a way more in-keeping with Peanuts’ original animation, The Peanuts Movie is the most underrated Blue Sky Studios film to date.
The lowest grossing Blue Sky movie ever, The Peanuts Movie perhaps suffered financially from a lack of star power in the recording booth and a waning fandom surrounding its subject matter, as well as an ongoing lawsuit between Blue Sky animators and the studio itself concerning fair pay opportunities. The film itself however, was undeserving of such blemishes against it, as the quirky and wholesome tale at the centre of the movie was a joy to the limited amount of people who watched it, and the animation was entirely in keeping with this mantra, making it a must see of Blue Sky Studios’ filmography.
1. Ice Age (2002)
Worldwide Box Office: $383.3million
Starring: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Chris Wedge, Jack Black, Alan Tudyk, Cedric the Entertainer, Jane Krakowski
When Blue Sky Studios came out of the box with Ice Age in 2002, the animated movie industry took a step back. The film was released on the cusp of the modern CG-animated era of Western animation that Antz (1998) and Shrek (2001) of Dreamworks Animation, Dinosaur (2000) of Disney Animation and only four feature-length Pixar movies – Toy Story (1995), A Bug’s Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999) and Monsters, Inc. (2001) – had embraced previously. By releasing Ice Age in the midst of Disney and Dreamworks’ strong hold over the developing genre, Blue Sky and 20th Century Fox made a bold claim for space within the same realm, earning over $380million at the box office, the equivalent of around $526million when adjusted for inflation.
In this respect, the movie was of great significance, yet the original Ice Age sits atop of this list not only for its accomplishments but also for its art. The movie, which was beautifully animated for a film of its time – compare it to the likes of Shrek and you’ll quickly notice the vast visual improvement offered in Ice Age – was a fun and original children’s comedy that importantly featured some of the adult themes that had come to make much of the 1990’s Dinsey renaissance so well respected. Presenting a group of unlikely friends coming together to overcome the odds of their own collective extinction, Ice Age hit all of the right story beats and created intriguing and relatable moments upon which to ponder. Perhaps most importantly, Ice Age was an animated film because it would’ve been impossible to create the movie by other means, therefore making it the truest form of modern, studio-driven animation genre, and the most memorable Blue Sky release to boot.