×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox tooning out, closing Phoenix arm

Competish (read: Disney) tough in animation biz

In the wake of the disappointing box office results for “Titan A.E.,” 20th Century Fox said it will close its 6-year-old traditional animation facility in Phoenix, Ariz.

In February, Fox laid off about two-thirds of the 320 employees at the Phoenix unit, but Monday the studio said it is shuttering the unit entirely.

The move is a further sign that the animated world, while full of cuddly creatures, is also highly treacherous for pretenders to the Disney throne.

“It clearly is a tough marketplace,” said Fox Animation president Chris Meledandri.

Fox isn’t abandoning animation entirely — it has computer animation and projects that mix live action and animation in the works — but it is exiting the traditional cel animation biz it tried to get into starting with 1997’s “Anastasia.”

In its six years in business, the Phoenix unit produced only two pics, “Anastasia” and “Titan.” “Anastasia” won respectful reviews but earned a middling $58.4 million at the domestic box office. “Titan” has pulled in a paltry $16.9 million since opening June 16, and the $80 million plus picture looks to be on its way to becoming a significant money loser for Fox. The weakness of “Titan” — and more generally, the millions of dollars the studio surely lost in its overall investment in Phoenix — was probably a factor in the abrupt exit last week of studio chairman Bill Mechanic.

Doused by Mouse

Like other studios, such as DreamWorks, which have tried to encroach upon Disney’s lucrative hold on animated films aimed at kids and families, Fox found the competition intense and Disney fierce. For instance, in what was widely viewed as an aggressive move to protect its territory, the Mouse House re-released “The Little Mermaid” in theaters just a week before Fox bowed “Anastasia.”

Both “Titan” and “Anastasia” were directed by the animation team of Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, who ran the Phoenix facility. Meledandri said he couldn’t comment on what sort of end had been negotiated in the duo’s contracts. “At this time we don’t have any plans to make any more movies with them,” Meledandri said.

The surviving animation operations include the studio’s computer animation facility in Harrison, N.Y., Blue Sky Studios, which has been increasing staff recently as it prepares to start production on “Ice Age,” a comedy-adventure about a woolly mammoth, a saber-toothed tiger and a sloth.

Still boning up

Fox is also in post-production on “Monkeybone,” a comedy that mixes live-action and stop-motion animation. Pic, directed by Henry Selick, stars Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda and Whoopi Goldberg.

The animation division is also overseeing “The Dubbed Action Movie: Enter the Fist” from writer-director Steve Oedekerk (“Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls”). Spoof mixes digital effects into a 1970s Asian martial arts film. Division also has a Farrelly brothers animated pic, “Frisco Pigeon Mambo,” in development; under consideration are five other feature projects to be made at Blue Sky.

More Film

  • BRAZILIAN FLAGFRENCH OPEN TENNIS, PARIS, FRANCE

    Brazil’s Ancine Freezes Incentives, Threatening Film-TV Industry Paralysis

    Brazil’s Ancine agency, its foremost public-sector source of film funding, has frozen all of its incentive programs, potentially near paralyzing new production in Latin America’s biggest film-TV industry. The dramatic decision, which has left Brazil’s industry is a state of shock and intense fear for its future, comes as it has taken further hits. In [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez

    Jennifer Lopez Reteams With STXfilms on Romantic-Comedy Co-Starring Owen Wilson

    Jennifer Lopez is reteaming with STXfilms on the upcoming romantic-comedy “Marry Me.” Kat Coiro is directing the film and Owen Wilson is in final negotiations to join the pic, which will likely shoot this fall. The script was written by John Rogers and Tami Sagher, with a rewrite by Harper Dill. Lopez and Wilson both [...]

  • Steve Golin The Revenant Spotlight Producer

    Steve Golin, Prolific Producer and Founder of Anonymous Content, Dies at 64

    Steve Golin, an Oscar-winning producer who was founder and CEO of Anonymous Content, has died of cancer. He was 64. Golin was a pioneer in blending the business of talent management with production. Anonymous Content, which Golin founded in 1999, worked with a stable of big name artists such as Steven Soderbergh, Emma Stone, Edgar [...]

  • Kelly McCormick David Leitch

    'Hobbs & Shaw' Director David Leitch, Kelly McCormick Sign First-Look Deal With Universal (EXCLUSIVE)

    Universal Pictures is signing David Leitch, his longtime producing partner, Kelly McCormick and their recently founded 87North Production banner to a first-look production deal. “David and Kelly have established themselves as a distinctive, stylish filmmaking team who can do it all, from contained thrillers to franchise tentpoles,” said Universal’s president Peter Cramer. “We are confident [...]

  • Still from cannes competition film "Parasite"

    Cannes: Bong Joon-ho Says ‘Parasite’ Is too Local to Win Competition

    Having been partially responsible for the Netflix fall out with the Cannes Film Festival, “Okja” and “Snowpiercer” director Bong Joon-ho returns to Cannes competition this year with conventionally- financed “Parasite.” But the Korean-language film is a tragicomedy that Bong says may be too nuanced for the festival. “Cannes always makes me feel excited, fresh, and [...]

  • Summer Box Office: 'Avengers: Endgame,' 'Lion

    Summer Box Office: Five Weekends to Watch

    Popcorn season is upon us, and it’ll be up to comic-book heroes, a wise-cracking genie, and a lion who would be king to ensure movie theaters are still the hottest place to spend the summer. Last summer, blockbusters like “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” Ocean’s 8,” and “The Meg” drove moviegoers to their [...]

  • Critics Week

    Cannes Critics’ Week Unveils Its Lineup

    Lorcan Finnegan’s science-fiction thriller “Vivarium” with Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots, Jérémy Clapin’s fantasy-filled animated feature “I Lost My Body,” and Hlynur Pálmason’s Icelandic drama “A White, White Day” are among the 11 films set to compete at Critics’ Week, the section dedicated to first and second films that runs parallel with the Cannes Film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content