Fox chairman Jim Gianopulos hailed his studio as the new "dominant player in animation" on Thursday, telling exhibitors that the combination of its in-house animation studio, Blue Sky, and its new distribution partner, DreamWorks Animation, had catapulted Fox to the front of the class.
While Pixar has yet to slip with a single film at the box office, there is no question Fox has staked out a leading position in terms of quantity of successful films. As the Fox chief was quick to point out at CinemaCon, the two most successful animated franchises of all-time, "Ice Age" and "Shrek," now reside under the same roof.
With an eye toward the global box office, the studio has positioned itself as a family entertainment juggernaut and Gianopulos described animation as a "cornerstone" of the studio's success.
Fox's heightened focus on animation was on full display at its Thursday presentation. While most other studios emphasized action-heavy tentpoles, Gianopulos devoted the beginning of his CinemaCon presentation to the studio's upcoming animated fare.
It began with Blue Sky's new logo and a video featuring the company's founders and top creative talent. Co-founder Chris Wedge said the company was unsure it could even make a feature length film when they started, but on Thursday Fox teased Blue Sky's next films: "Epic," a visually sumptuous panorama of miniature fairies, animals and tiny mounted soldiers, the next "Rio" film and an upcoming reinvention of Charles M. Schulz's "Peanuts."
With Charlie Brown, Gianopulos cautioned members of audience to prepare to "have your minds blown." He then moved on to DreamWorks Animation, introducing this summer's "Turbo," about a snail that becomes a racing star, as well as a few other upcoming releases.
Only then did Fox move on to live-action films like "The Heat" and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," both of which were received quite well.
Fox's sister TV network has long devoted Sunday night to some of the most enduring brands in animation, from "The Simpsons" to "Family Guy." Now its film studio has joined the party.