Walt Disney Studios is making some leadership changes as it integrates Blue Sky into its portfolio of kid-friendly brands.
Animation Studios president Andrew Millstein and “Zootopia” producer and creative executive Clark Spencer are stepping into new leadership roles. Millstein will become co-president of Blue Sky, the studio behind “Ice Age” and “Rio,” alongside current co-president Robert Baird.
Baird will continue to drive the creative direction of the studio reporting to Walt Disney Studios’ chief creative officer and co-chairman Alan Horn and co-chairman Alan Bergman. Millstein will oversee day-to-day operations, focusing more on the business side. Millstein will report to Jim Morris, who will take on a supervisory role at Blue Sky. He will continue in his capacity as president of Pixar Animation Studios. Spencer has been named president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, reporting to Bergman and working alongside Walt Disney Animation Studios chief creative officer Jennifer Lee, who continues to report to Horn and Bergman.
Disney bought Blue Sky as part of its massive $71.3 billion acquisition of much of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets. Last month, Andrea Miloro left as co-president of Blue Sky. The company has established a reputation for producing lower-cost animated hits, but its future has been uncertain because Disney has a wealth of talent in the family entertainment space at both its animated division and at Pixar. There had been some speculation that Blue Sky might be phased out after it releases its next few films or turned into a producer of content for Disney Plus, the company’s forthcoming streaming service. Friday’s announcement doesn’t provide much in the way of clarity, but it does signal that Disney is exerting more control and putting a greater imprint on its new purchases.
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“We are incredibly proud of the strength and depth of leadership in our animation studios, and Andrew, Clark, and Jim are all exemplars of that,” Horn and Bergman said in a joint statement.”The remarkable success of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios over the past decade is due in large part to the respective leadership of Andrew and Jim and their ability to foster creativity, technology, and culture in equal parts, and we are thrilled that they will be lending their experience to the Blue Sky team along with Robert Baird’s creative guidance.”
Millstein has served as president of Walt Disney Animation Studios since 2014 and as its general manager since 2008. He produced Oscar-winning hits such as “Moana,” “Tangled,” and “Zootopia.”
Spencer is a three-decade Disney vet, earning an Oscar for “Zootopia,” and working on the likes of “Lilo & Stitch” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”
Morris has been with Pixar since 2005, serving as its general manager and president. In that capacity he has worked on the likes of “Up” and “Inside Out.”
Upcoming Blue Sky releases include “Spies in Disguise,” a buddy comedy with the voices of Will Smith and Tom Holland, and “Nimona,” an adaptation of a graphic novel.