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Fox Animation Phoenix Burns Out

After only six years in existence, Fox has closed the doors to its Phoenix, Arizona-based animation division, subsequently ending Don Bluth and Gary Goldmans relationship with Fox. The move comes after the recent resignation of Fox Filmed Entertainments chairman and CEO, Bill Mechanic, who had taken a big interest in animation and helped start the Fox facility in Phoenix. With the recent box office disappointment of TITAN A.E., the news is not much of a shock. In February, Fox laid off nearly 70% of its toon factory's staff. Moreover, the closure of Fox Phoenix comes at the same time Fox-owned CG house Blue Sky Studios begins production on Chris Wedges ICE AGE. The long talked about feature is Foxs first attempt at transforming its New York-based effects house into a CG animation studio. Chris Meledandri, 20th Century Fox Animation president, said in the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, "We are not out of the animation business, clearly from our investment in Blue Sky and the production of MONKEYBONE and our other projects. The marketplace has changed dramatically in the last six years, and while we were once in the business of producing animation, we found other opportunities to make different kinds of films with different kinds of filmmakers that became attractive to us." Last year, Fox purchased Blue Sky and set up the studio to work on effects for Henry Selicks MONKEYBONE, a stop motion feature based on the cult comic book. Since then Fox has signed deals with Steve Oedekerk (Thumb.com) and Peter and Bobby Farrelly (THERES SOMETHING ABOUT MARY). Oedekerk will develop two films entitled THE DUBBED ACTION MOVIE: ENTER THE FIST and LITTLE BEAUTY KING, while the Farrelly Brothers are set to produce the film FRISCO PIGEON MAMBO. In addition, the studio is in the planning stages of adapting FATHOM, a Top Cows comic book, into a feature film.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
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