Success Stories: Nothing But Blue Skies
Since Connecticut started aggressively courting the movie and TV industry in July 2006 with substantial tax credits, there’s been a steady migration of productions to the state, particularly to Fairfield County. In that time, more than 15 features have been filmed in Stamford alone, which is also home to NBC Universal Studios (“The Jerry Springer Show” and “Maury”) as well as the new giant on the block—NBC Sports, is covering the Olympics later this year.
Greenwich hasn’t been left out of the act. Blue Sky Studios relocated there from New York in 2009, and since arriving, the digital animation studio has been an unqualified hit, both on the big screen and behind the scenes. In addition to the phenomenally successful Ice Age trilogy, which has earned nearly $2 billion, Blue Sky’s family-friendly Rio soared at the box office last year, grossing $484 million worldwide. After the initial 300 jobs it brought, the studio added another 100 employees, and then announced expansion plans last October that include 150,000 square feet of additional work space and another 70 jobs.
“I think Blue Sky’s success is attributable to the passion of the employees who work here, and to the work ethic and vision of our founders, which is to continually strive for something new, something visually stunning, not letting the technology hold back the storytelling,” says Brian Keane, chief operating officer. “Blue Sky is also unique from the other studios in that all of our founders and many of our senior players are all from the Northeast. We have a lot of people who are vested in growing the business in Connecticut, and who want to sustain a long-term business here.”
Last year saw the premiere of its first TV holiday special, “Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas”; the franchise returns to big screens around the globe this July with Ice Age: Continental Drift. Also in the pipeline for 2013 is Leaf Men, based on William Joyce’s popular children’s book, which is already generating industry buzz.
Keane sees continued bright skies for Blue Sky. He says, “My hope would be that we continue to hold on to the values we have today, which are of a family-based company that still has a very personal touch and a very intimate feeling, but continue to make incredibly successful films and build franchises for the future.”