Fox’s got a new
and it’s set on collision course for theaters this Friday. Animation at the studio has weaved a winding line through Saturday morning cartoons, adult fare, and studio closures before lifting Fox as one of Hollywood’s major animated players decades later, alongside Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks. In this week’s gallery, we look at 24 films and TV shows highlighting the history of Fox Animation. Ice Age
Return to the Planet of the Apes
During the 1960s and ’70s, 20th Century Fox Television gave the Saturday morning treatment to popular films out of their studio stable, including Fantastic Voyage and Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Fox distrubited a half-dozen animated movies to theaters starting in 1977 (with two from Ralph Bakshi, including this and 1983’s Fire and Ice) up until establishing their own in-house theatrical process during the ’90s.
Three years after launching their flagship network channel, Fox premiered America’s greatest dysfunctional family, changing the sitcom and TV animation landscape for decades to come.
FernGully,which commodified enviromentalism as was de riuguer during the ’90s, was Fox’s only notable financial success during their time as feature animation distributor.
This live-action/traditional animation hybrid starring Macaulay Culkin and extolling the virtues of reading (blech) was the last film Fox would distribute before founding their own animation studio the same year.
Fox Animation Studios, continuing the same auteur-type collaboration that the larger studio began with Bakshi in the ’70s, hired Don Bluth ( The Secret of N.I.M.H., The Land Before Time) to create this opulent musical torn from Russian history.
King of the Hill
The Simpsons not only helped put Fox network on the map (and eased the painful task of scheduling content between X-Files and 300 hours of Cops every week), but also transformed Sundays into a haven for new realms of American animated comedy…that were always under threat of being preempted by the Cowboys.
The most influential animated comedy since The Simpsons with its fast timing and absurdist cutaways, creating a mini-Seth MacFarlane empire that included American Dad! and The Cleveland Show.
Matt Groening and David X. Cohen took the overeducated, nerd humor that always existed on the fringes of The Simpsons and gave it its own show.
Traditional animation was already falling out of favor when Bluth’s Titan A.E. dropped into a market that would sink other similar sci-fi products (WB’s Iron Giant, and Disney’s Atlantis and Treasure Planet). Fox Animation Studios would close soon after, six years after its inception.
In 1997 Fox bought Blue Sky Studios, whose employees had been cutting their teeth on commercials and visual effects since Tron. Ice Age was a global hit (finally establishing Fox Animation as a key player) and the third movie to become a franchise (following Toy Story and Shrek) in the once brave new world of CG animation. And the rest is history.
Critics Consensus: Robots delights on a visual level, but the story feels like it came off an assembly line.
Ice Age: The Meltdown
Critics Consensus: Despite its impressive animation and the hilarious antics of the saber-toothed squirrel Scrat, The Meltdown comes up short on the storytelling front.
The Simpsons Movie
Critics Consensus: The Simpsons Movie contains the hearty laughs, biting satire, and honest portrayal of an American family that makes the show so popular.
Horton Hears a Who!
Critics Consensus: Horton Hears A Who! is both whimsical and heartwarming, and is the rare Dr. Seuss adaptation that stays true to the spirit of the source material.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Critics Consensus: Dawn of the Dinosaurs boasts some excellent animation — in particular, the dinosaurs are wonderfully realized — but its story is tired and monotonous.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delightfully funny feast for the eyes with multi-generational appeal — and it shows Wes Anderson has a knack for animation.
Critics Consensus: This straightforward movie reaches great heights thanks to its colorful visual palette, catchy music, and funny vocal performances.
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Critics Consensus: Ice Age: Continental Drift 3D has moments of charm and witty slapstick, but it often seems content to recycle ideas from the previous films.
Critics Consensus: Though its narrative themes are all too familiar, Epic is beautifully animated and crafted with just enough flair to make for solid family entertainment.
Critics Consensus: Like most sequels, Rio 2 takes its predecessor’s basic template and tries to make it bigger — which means it’s even busier, more colorful, and ultimately more exhausting for viewers outside the youthful target demographic.
The Book of Life
Critics Consensus: The Book of Life‘s gorgeous animation is a treat.
The Peanuts Movie
Critics Consensus: The Peanuts Movie offers a colorful gateway into the world of its classic characters and a sweetly nostalgic — if relatively unambitious — treat for the adults who grew up with them.
Blue Sky Studio’s next offering arrives this upcoming July, the story of a flora-sniffing bull based on the children’s book of nearly the same name.