2002-2009 | 2010-2014
After the runaway success of their early years, by 2010 Blue Sky Studios had established themselves as an animation studio which had created one highly-successful series in Ice Age, but had struggled to emulate that success with any other films. In 2011 they released a film about a blue parrot that they hoped might well change that...
Below are listed Blue Sky Studio's films made during this period. Characters and actors in Bold appear in other Blue Sky films.
6. Rio (2011)
|Plot||Blu is a rare bird that lives a sheltered life in a bookshop in America until an ornithologist arrives and realises Blu is the last male of his kind. Blu's owner is persuaded to take him to Rio in Brazil to meet the last female, Jewel, in order to save the species. Jewel, however, is unimpressed, especially as Blu cannot even fly, but soon they find themselves captured and chained together by bird smugglers.|
|Setting||Moose Lake, Minnesota and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Birds & Beast|
|Others in the Series||9. Rio 2 (2014)|
The Spix's Macaw is a real bird, believed to be extinct in the wild. Fewer than 100 birds in captivity exist at the time of writing (2018). The film is loosely based on a real story about a pet in America that joined the captive breeding programme in order to try to preserve the species. This was the first film Blue Sky had made since 2002 to feature humans. The film led to a Rio Edition of popular game Angry Birds.
Brazilian director Carlos Saldanha is actually from Rio. His initial idea was about a penguin being washed-up on Rio's beach; however, this was changed when Blue Sky learned of two other penguin-related animated films, Animal Logic's Happy Feet (2006) and Sony Pictures Animation's Surf's Up (2007). In turn, Rio's plot led to the cancellation of a planned Pixar film, to have been titled Newt1.
Song 'Real in Rio' was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Song, losing to 'Man or Muppet' from The Muppets. Rio was the 4th most successful film of 2011, following DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda 2, Pixar's Cars 2 and DreamWorks Animation's Puss in Boots.
7. Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)
|Directors||Steve Martino & Michael Thurmeier|
|Plot||Manny's overprotectiveness is stifling his teenage daughter, Peaches. She wishes to impress the other mammoths who are not impressed that she has non-mammoth friends. Scrat's attempt to bury a nut inadvertently causes the continent of Pangaea to break. This has devastating consequences for the herd's homeland. Manny, Diego, Sid and his granny find themselves on an iceberg floating away from the disintegrating continent. After being picked up by a pirate crew led by Gigantopithecus Captain Gutt and his first mate Shira, a female sabre-toothed tiger2, they are given a choice: join the crew and abandon all hope of seeing their families again, or die.|
|Setting||Ice Age, 20,000 BC|
|Others in the Series|
The Ice Age films continue to be inventive, if not increasingly silly, with this fourth instalment feeling a bit crowded. Far from the simple story of the first film, the plot now features: the breakup of a continent endangering everyone's lives, battles with pirates, Scratlantis, sirens, Manny's relationship with his daughter, Peaches wanting to fit in while still being true to herself, Manny's separation from his family, Sid's abandonment issues and relationship with his granny, a love interest for Diego and the rescue of a species from slavery.
Even so, this was the most successful animated film of the year, beating competition from DreamWorks' Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Pixar's Brave and Disney's Wreck-It Ralph.
8. Epic (2013)
|Plot||Following the death of her mother, 17-year-old Mary Katherine 'MK' moves back in with her eccentric father Professor Bomba, whose belief that there are little people in the wood around his house had caused MK's mother to leave him. MK learns that her father is right when she is shrunk down to the size of the Leafmen, who defend the wood from harm. MK is given a mission to protect a pod, the next heir to the throne of the forest, from the Boggans, evil forces of rot and decay led by Mandrake.|
|Setting||A forest in early 21st Century America|
|Inspiration||The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs (1996) by William Joyce|
|Music||Composed by Danny Elfman. Song 'Rise Up' by Sia and Beyoncé Knowles|
Epic is a stunningly beautiful film with breathtaking scenery. However, the story is fairly predictable. In many ways a rehash of films such as FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992), Avatar (2009) and The Ant Bully (2006), it remains entertaining but perhaps unlikely to inspire multiple viewings. The film was written by William Joyce based on his own novel; Joyce had not only been heavily involved in Blue Sky's Robots (2005) but also Disney's Meet the Robinsons (2007) based on one of his novels, as well as providing art for early Pixar films. The character MK was inspired by his daughter, who died of a brain tumour at the age of 18.
Though a profitable film it was the year's seventh most successful animated film at the box office, behind Disney's Frozen, Illumination's Despicable Me 2, Pixar's Monsters University, DreamWorks Animation's The Croods and Turbo, and Sony Pictures Animation's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.
9. Rio 2 (2014)
|Plot||After Dr Tulio and Linda discover a location deep in the Amazon that they believe to be home to a lost flock of Spix's Macaws. Jewel longs to find more of her kind. Blu, and his friends, reluctantly agree to travel with her. Once there, they find the flock is led by Jewel's father, who dislikes Blu, who is unable to fit in. Yet illegal loggers are on their way to destroy their home forever and Nigel the cockatoo follows them, seeking revenge.|
|Setting||Rio de Janeiro and Amazon Jungle, Brazil, early 21st Century|
|Birds & Beasts|
|Music||Composed by John Powell|
|Others in the Series||6. Rio (2011)|
Although a weaker film than the original, it remains entertaining. The plot, in which a glasses-wearing eccentric searches in a jungle for a lost flock of birds starts off very similar to that of Epic, in which a glasses-wearing eccentric searches in the woods for a lost tribe of little people. Yet after that the film finds its wings and soars. Though it follows a familiar and predictable dance, it delivers style over substance.
Rio 2 was the first Blue Sky Studios film to cost over $100 million to make3 but became the first, and to date only non-Ice Age Blue Sky film to make over $500 million. In fact, Rio 2 was the third most successful animated film of 2014, following Disney's Big Hero 6 and DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon 2, beating films including The LEGO Movie, DreamWorks Animation's Penguins of Madagascar and Mr Peabody and Sherman, and DisneyToon Studios Planes: Fire and Rescue.