|Private limited company|
|Successor||Fox Animation Studios|
|Founded||September 13, 1979 (as Don Bluth Productions)|
|Founder||Don Bluth and Morris Sullivan|
|Products||Animated feature films|
Number of employees
|350 at peak|
Sullivan Bluth Studios was an Irish-American animation studio established in 1979 by animator Don Bluth. Bluth and several colleagues, all of whom were former Disney animators, left Disney on September 13, 1979 to form Don Bluth Productions, later known as the Bluth Group. This studio produced the short film Banjo the Woodpile Cat , the feature film The Secret of NIMH , a brief animation sequence in the musical Xanadu , and the video games Dragon's Lair and Space Ace . The Bluth Group went bankrupt in 1984, and Bluth co-founded Sullivan Bluth Studios with American businessman Morris Sullivan in 1985.
The studio initially operated from an animation facility in Van Nuys, California, and negotiated with Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment to make the animated feature An American Tail . During its production, Sullivan began to move the studio to Dublin, Ireland, to take advantage of government investment and incentives offered by the Industrial Development Authority (IDA). Most of the staff from the US studio moved to the new Dublin facility during production on the studio's second feature film, The Land Before Time . The studio also recruited heavily from Ireland, and helped set up an animation course at Ballyfermot College of Further Education to train new artists.
After The Land Before Time, the studio severed its connection with Amblin and negotiated with UK-based Goldcrest Films, which invested in and distributed two additional features, All Dogs Go to Heaven and Rock-a-Doodle . In 1989, during the production of All Dogs Go to Heaven, founding member John Pomeroy and many of the remaining US staff members returned to America to form a US wing in Burbank, California. The studio found itself in financial difficulty in 1992 when Goldcrest withdrew funding due to concerns about the poor box office returns of its most recent films and budgetary over-runs in its in-production films, Thumbelina , A Troll in Central Park and The Pebble and the Penguin . Another British film company, Merlin Films, and Hong Kong media company Media Assets invested in the studio to fund the completion and release of the three partially completed films.
Bluth and Gary Goldman were drawn away from the studio when they were approached in late 1993 to set up a new animation studio for 20th Century Fox. Sullivan Bluth Studio's films continued to suffer losses at the box office, and the studio was closed down in 1995 after the release of their final feature, The Pebble and the Penguin. Don Bluth and Gary Goldman went on to head up Fox Animation Studios in Phoenix, Arizona to work on Anastasia , Bartok the Magnificent and Titan A.E.
In 1979, Don Bluth, an animator and animation director at Walt Disney Productions, fellow animators John Pomeroy and Gary Goldman, and eight other animation staff left the studio during production on The Fox and the Hound . Bluth cited as his reasons dissatisfaction with the studio's stifling bureaucracyand its "churn 'em out" attitude to filmmaking. Bluth, Pomeroy and Goldman had been working for four years prior to leaving Disney on a project of their own, Banjo the Woodpile Cat . Upon leaving Disney, they and the other defecting animators formed the independent studio Don Bluth Productions, working out of Bluth's garage and home in Ventura, California, and made the completion of this short film their first project. After four years of production, much of it part-time, Banjo the Woodpile Cat was completed and given theatrical screenings in two theatres in December 1979. The short was then offered to various television stations, airing on HBO in February 1980 and ABC in 1982.
After the completion of Banjo, the studio moved out of Bluth's house and into a two-story facility in nearby Studio City.The studio's first commission was to produce a two-minute animated sequence for the song “Don't Walk Away” in the live-action musical Xanadu . The brief sequence might ordinarily have taken four or five months to produce; Bluth's studio completed it in under three. The studio then started work on its first feature film, an adaptation of the Newbery Medal-winning children's book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH . Backed by Aurora Productions, The Secret of NIMH started production in 1980 and was completed in 1982. Though generally well received by critics, who praised the richness and fluidity of the animation, some found the narrative unsatisfying. The Secret of NIMH returned only a modest box office performance, which was blamed on distributor MGM/UA's poor promotion, regionally staggered releases and competition from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial , which had been released the previous month (which most likely brought "NIMH" nearly into obscurity). Between this and an industry-wide animators strike in 1982, the studio found itself in financial trouble and filed for bankruptcy.
Reforming under the name Bluth Group, the studio's next project was to produce the animation for Cinematronics' arcade video games Dragon's Lair and Space Ace , which were released in 1983. The games were very successful, attracting considerable attention for the animated visuals quite unlike the simplistic graphics of other games of the era, but were criticised for their limited interactivity. The collapse of the video game industry in late 1983 and early 1984 halted production on the sequel Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp . Cinematronics, now in debt and trying to cut its own losses, froze fees and royalties of over US$3 million to Bluth Group, driving the studio once again into bankruptcy.The unfinished sequel to Dragon's Lair, despite having almost all of its animated footage completed, remained unreleased until 1991.
During Bluth Group's period working with Cinematronics, Don Bluth met Morris Sullivan, a mergers and acquisitions broker and enthusiast of traditional animation, who quickly saw the potential in the studio. When the studio declared its second bankruptcy, Sullivan stepped in to assist, combining his experience of the business world with Bluth and his crew's talent to form Sullivan-Bluth Studios (later dropping the hyphen to become Sullivan Bluth Studios).Moving out of the smaller Studio City facility and into a dedicated building in Van Nuys, California, the studio opened in 1985.
In its early days, the studio worked on a number of smaller projects such as commercials while seeking a suitable feature film project. In 1984, as the studio was preparing to move to its new headquarters, Bluth was approached by Steven Spielberg with an idea for a feature film about a mouse family emigrating to America, An American Tail . Bluth and Spielberg worked together to develop the story for the film, and production began in earnest later that year. With backing from Spielberg's production company Amblin Entertainment, and distributors Universal Pictures, the film was released in November 1986, accompanied by a major publicity campaign.An American Tail was very successful at the box-office, grossing $47 million in the United States and becoming the highest-grossing animated film on an initial release.
During production on An American Tail, Morris Sullivan drew plans to move the majority of the studio's operations to Ireland to take advantage of a scheme set up by the Industrial Development Authority encouraging filmmakers to invest in the country by offering grants, tax benefits and lower operating costs.Difficulties with American trade unions that arose when Bluth offered his employees wages below union rates during the financially tense production of An American Tail may also have influenced the decision to relocate. The IDA offered Sullivan Bluth Studios the largest grant in the country's history to relocate to Dublin, in return for a 5% government ownership of the studio. This, along with Sullivan's own investment, funded the foundation of a large and sophisticated new animation studio near Dublin's Phoenix Park. The studio opened with a staff of 85, mostly handling the ink-and-paint process, but expanded to employ over 300 people, including some 100 staff relocated from the California studio, and to cover all aspects of the animation process and even film processing. To build up this workforce, the studio brought young Irish people to the USA studio to train, and Bluth helped to set up an animation course at the nearby Ballyfermot Senior College. Despite the majority of operations eventually being moved to the Dublin studio, an executive office was retained in Burbank, California to maintain ties with US producers and distributors.
During the move to Ireland, production had started on the studio's second feature, The Land Before Time . Again, Amblin and Spielberg backed the production, with additional input from friend of Spielberg and Star Wars creator George Lucas, who had worked with Spielberg on the initial story treatment. The movie had been rushed into its early production stages even before the release of An American Tail to meet an Autumn 1987 release date, a very tight schedule for a feature-length animated film. However, between delays caused by the disruption of the move to Dublin, and the unwillingness of Amblin and Universal to fully commit to the project until An American Tail's release, production fell behind by several months, and it was Spring 1987 before it reached full stride.
Spielberg and Lucas' control over the story and production of The Land Before Time was notably greater than with An American Tail; substantial changes to the story were imposed mid-production,and around 10 minutes of footage, an expenditure for the studio of over $1 million, was removed. Production was completed in 1988 for a November release, the film vying for box-office receipts with Disney's Oliver & Company . The Land Before Time received positive reviews by the critics and broke the record for the highest-grossing animated film on its opening weekend, and would have retained the record for highest overall gross ($48 million) had Oliver & Company not surpassed it ($53 million).
During the production of The Land Before Time, Morris Sullivan detailed plans to diversify the studio's output into other areas. In late 1987, a further $4.5 million was invested in improvements to the studio as part of a plan to move into television. At around the same time, plans were also announced to go into live-action film production, and to purchase a film distribution company to distribute not only the studio's own output but also other Irish productions. However, the live action and distribution plans were put on hold when the studio struck a deal with British producers Goldcrest Films in early 1988 to partially finance and distribute a further three animated films.
Later that year, the plans were revived, along with the possibility of opening a TV animation division to produce high-quality Saturday morning cartoons. However, these plans were halted by Spring 1989. Out of all the plans to diversify, only the studio's commercial animation department was kept, producing advertisements for US and European television.
During the production of The Land Before Time, development work was already beginning on the studio's next feature. Sullivan had been keen to fund the next feature with a combination of the studio's own revenue and Irish investment, as opposed to Hollywood producers;the deal with Goldcrest (which had an Irish office) would make this possible. Working under Goldcrest also afforded director Bluth freer rein over the development of the story than under Amblin and Spielberg.
Early ideas for a dog-based story starring Burt Reynolds had been mooted after the completion of The Secret of NIMH, but never progressed beyond rough storyboards.The idea was revisited in late 1987 and developed into a feature-length story, titled All Dogs Go to Heaven . The film entered full production in late 1988, following directly on from The Land Before Time.
In 1989, during the production of All Dogs Go to Heaven, founding member John Pomeroy and several original crew members left the Dublin studio to return to the United States, setting up a studio in Burbank, California named West Olive, later to become Sullivan Bluth Animation Studios. The new studio handled some of the animation for All Dogs Go to Heaven, as well as some television commercials. The move helped strengthen the studio's presence in the North American market, and early promotion for All Dogs Go to Heaven included a presentation at the 1989 San Diego Comic-Con and sales of animation cels from previous productions. Initially the new US studio handled only the rough animation, with the drawings then sent to the Dublin studio for cleanup, ink-and-paint and shooting. As the studio expanded, it took on more and more of the animation process, with the paper animation completed there and sent to Dublin for Xerography and painting.
All Dogs Go to Heaven was completed in late 1989, opening in November. On Pomeroy's insistence, some cuts were made to bring the film down from its initial MPAA rating of PG to a G rating.Like their previous feature, the studio's latest would be going head-to-head against Disney's newest release, this time The Little Mermaid . Critics gave mixed reviews, with some drawing unfavourable comparisons with The Little Mermaid. Commercially, it fell short of the studio's previous two features, grossing $26 million domestically. However, it was a great success when released on home video; accompanied by a $13 million advertising campaign, the video sold over three million copies in the first month alone, topping the charts and becoming one of the top-selling VHS releases of all time.
The unspectacular reception for All Dogs Go to Heaven led the studio to reconsider its approach to public relations in hopes to impress the American film critics. For its next feature film, Rock-a-Doodle , a greater emphasis was placed on audience reception. Several screenings of early test footage were held, and changes were made to the film's content to reduce the intensity or suggestiveness of several scenes and broaden its commercial appeal.
Rock-a-Doodle was loosely based on the play Chantecler by poet and playwright Edmond Rostand (itself based on a fable popularised by Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales ). The idea for an adaptation of Chantecler dates back to the late 1930s at the Walt Disney Company, and was revisited repeatedly in the decades to follow, but never entered production.It was not until 1982 that Bluth, having left Disney, took a similar idea into pre-production, though the project stalled with the collapse of Don Bluth Productions in the same year. As work on All Dogs Go to Heaven neared completion, the idea was revived and Rock-a-Doodle entered production in late 1989.
During production of Rock-a-Doodle, the studio found itself in difficulties again. Following a buyout of Goldcrest, the new owners of the production company, after finding out the end results of their previous film, decided to end its dealings with Sullivan Bluth Studios. Shortly after, Goldcrest took steps to liquidate the studio, claiming it could not pay back a $300,000 loan and other debts. However, the petition was withdrawn and the issue settled outside court.Though the precise reasons for the withdrawal were not made public, as part of the settlement the ownership of the studio's artwork was turned over to Goldcrest, putting an end to the studio's selling of animation cels.
In January 1992, Sullivan Bluth Studios renamed itself to Don Bluth Entertainment.
Rock-a-Doodle was released in April 1992, and was the last of the studio's films to have Goldcrest involved in its distribution; The Samuel Goldwyn Company picked up the rights for its distribution in the US.The production's goal for success failed abysmally (even worse than All Dogs Go to Heaven), as the critical reception was poor to indifferent, and it performed poorly at the box office, grossing just $11.7 million, losing to its apparent competitor, Kroyer Films, Inc./20th Century Fox's FernGully: The Last Rainforest (which grossed over $32 million). The film's poor financial performance, along with the loss of financial backing for several other features the studio had in development, led the studio to declare bankruptcy in October 1992.
With Goldcrest's withdrawal, the future of Don Bluth Entertainment was uncertain. Three further films were already well into development; A Troll in Central Park had been in production since mid-1990, Thumbelina since 1991 and The Pebble and the Penguin since late 1991.The studio's in-development features were going over budget, and the studio's Belgian investors and a Netherlands bank, who had invested heavily in them, suffered financial difficulties as a result and withdrew further funding. The threat of the closure of the studio was raised that month in the Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Oireachtas, also known as Ireland's national parliament) in the hopes of securing its future. Thirty employees were laid off at the Los Angeles studio, many of the staff at the Dublin studio continued working unpaid, and Don Bluth reportedly met some operating expenses out of his own pocket.
In November 1992, Don Bluth Entertainment found investment from UK filmmaker John Boorman's production company Merlin Films and Hong Kong-based company Media Assets. Merlin Films and Media Assets invested $14 million to purchase the studio's next three films and a further $6 million to ensure the completion of the two partially completed films, with further investment to follow on the third film, The Pebble and the Penguin , then still in early development.A condition of the investment was that Merlin Films and Media Assets would have a close involvement in the management of Don Bluth Entertainment's financial operations, following reports of the studio's past mismanagement. In 1993, STAR TV, the parent company of Media Assets, was purchased by Rupert Murdoch (son of former Australian journalist Keith Murdoch, an editor for Adelaide's former The News ), effectively making the studio a subsidiary of The News' namesake News Corporation.
Although A Troll in Central Park was closer to completion, Merlin and Media Assets decided that Thumbelina was more likely to be a commercial success, and pressed for its completion and release first.MGM/UA, who planned to distribute the films in the US, had already backed off in the wake of DBE's bankruptcy, doubtful that the pictures would ever be completed. J&M Entertainment, which was slated to release the films overseas, sold their rights to Media Assets. Warner Bros. picked up Thumbelina and subsequent films for worldwide distribution. The film was released in March 1994. Critical reception was generally indifferent to mixed, and the film performed poorly at the box office, grossing just over $11 million.
The studio's next feature suffered a much weaker commercial performance. A Troll in Central Park , almost complete at the time of the Merlin deal, was given a limited regional release in October 1994. Like Thumbelina before it, A Troll in Central Park was poorly received by critics, and it grossed just $71,000.This poor performance has been attributed to Warner Bros.' lack of promotion; there was no television promotion, no advance screenings and only a low-key print campaign. In the July 2001 issue of Bluth's animation magazine Toon Talk, Bluth explained the film's troubled production, faulting his own unwillingness to accept outside input, and lack of time to refine the story, likening the film to “a child [...] born prematurely”.
The third of the studio's partially completed features, The Pebble and the Penguin , was also dogged by production difficulties. MGM/UA stepped in to become distributors for the film in the US, and at a relatively late stage in production insisted on making extensive changes, cutting some sequences, removing some characters and re-recording many of the voices. The changes meant that the animation, the effects animation in particular, fell behind, and some of the ink-and-paint work had to be farmed out to a Hungarian animation studio (in this case, Reflex Animation Ltd.) to meet the release deadline. Directors Bluth and Goldman were so dissatisfied at the enforced changes that they insisted on their names being removed from the credits (though the company name “Don Bluth Ireland, Ltd.” remained).The Pebble and the Penguin was released in April 1995, and again made a loss at the box office, grossing almost $4 million in the US and went bankrupt. The film performed better on home video when released that August, becoming a fast seller alongside other animated films released in the same month. Bluth did not remain disassociated with The Pebble and the Penguin, supervising a high-definition remastering in 2007 that corrected some of the animation and shooting errors caused by the rushed production.
In late 1993, shortly after the Merlin Films/Media Assets deal, founders Bluth and Goldman met with then-President of 20th Century Fox Television Peter Chernin, and CEO and Chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment Bill Mechanic to discuss the creation of a feature animation division. While Bluth and Goldman wanted to remain at the Dublin studio, arguing that because Media Assets was owned by Fox's parent company News Corporation, Fox effectively had a working animation studio already, Mechanic wanted Bluth and Goldman to head up a new studio in Phoenix, Arizona instead. Bluth and Goldman intended to remain in Ireland to complete work on The Pebble and the Penguin, but when they were forced to make changes to the film they left the studio and began working with Mechanic to set up Fox Animation Studios. After the release of The Pebble and the Penguin in 1995, it went bankrupt and operations at the Dublin studio were wound down. Many of the staff moved to the new Fox Animation studio, and the studio closed its doors later the same year.
Working at the new Arizona animation facility, Bluth and Goldman co-directed Fox Animation Studio's first film, Anastasia , released in 1997, a 1999 direct-to-video prequel Bartok the Magnificent and Titan A.E. , released in 2000. Titan A.E. grossed just $22.7 million 's release.against its estimated budget of $75 million; Fox Animation Studios had already laid off two-thirds of its staff several months previously, and it closed entirely shortly after Titan A.E.
The departure in 1979 of animators Bluth, Goldman and Pomeroy, along with a further four animators and four assistant animators from Disney's feature animation studio, caused a considerable disturbance in the animation industry.The eleven animators who left represented about 17% of the studio's animation staff, a loss that delayed the release of The Fox and the Hound by six months. Ron W. Miller, the president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company at the time, remarked that although the timing of their departure was unfortunate, it was “possibly the best thing that could happen to our animation group”. Bluth expressed concerns that as Disney's productions became more technically advanced, the story seemed to lose importance. The aim of his new studio was to “return animation to its glorious past”, concentrating on strong stories, and using traditional animation techniques that had fallen out of favour at Disney. Animation historian Jerry Beck observed that Don Bluth Productions was clearly set up in direct opposition to Disney; even Aurora Productions, who backed the studio's first feature, The Secret of NIMH , was made up of former Disney executives.
While Bluth's early output did not match Disney's success at the box office, critics praised the studio's visual style, and by 1986 Sullivan Bluth Studios' An American Tail had broken the box-office record for a first-release animated feature. As animation columnist Jim Hill notes, this critical and commercial reception forced Disney to rethink its approach to animated features.Throughout the 1980s, Disney strove to revitalise its output, and while the next feature after Bluth's departure, The Black Cauldron , was a commercial and critical failure (attributed by Hill to the use of the latest animation technology at the expense of the story), the films that followed ( The Great Mouse Detective and Oliver & Company ) marked the beginning of a period of increasing success for the studio in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with each successive film earning 40-50% more than its predecessor, culminating in The Lion King earning nearly $800 million worldwide in 1994.
Sullivan Bluth Studios has also been regarded as a major influence in the development of Ireland's animation industry. Animator Jimmy Murakami had been operating his studio Murakami Films in Ireland throughout the 1980s, and the opening of Sullivan Bluth Studios brought about expansion in the sector, with Murakami Films expanding to become Murakami-Wolf Dublin (later Fred Wolf Films Dublin), and another studio of American origins, Emerald City, opening in Dublin. By 1990, Dublin's animation industry employed around 530 people.Sullivan Bluth Studios was also instrumental in setting up education programmes in Dublin to train new artists and animators. At the Ballyfermot Senior College an animation department was set up, modelled on the school of Art and Design at Sheridan College, Ontario, Canada. Many of Ballyfermot's graduates went on to work at Sullivan Bluth and the city's other animation studios. In 1989, around 75% of the 350 staff employed at the Dublin studio was Irish, and by late 1990, most of the original US crew had returned to America to be replaced by Irish artists and animators. Some senior staff at the studio became part-time instructors at the college. The success of the animation course at Ballyfermot spurred the creation of an animation programme at Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, focussed more on experimental and arthouse techniques compared to Ballyfermot's traditional animation approach.
The closure of Sullivan Bluth Studios in 1995 brought about a near collapse in the Irish animation industry. Emerald City closed soon after, and Fred Wolf Films Dublin downsized.By 1997, the industry's annual turnover had dropped from around £12 million to just £100,000. The industry began to recover as numerous smaller animation studios were set up. Several former Sullivan Bluth employees started studios of their own, including Brown Bag Films, Monster Animation and Design and Terraglyph Animation. The animation sector in Ireland has grown to become a very successful industry as indigenous studios have all produced films and TV series for international markets.
|#||Title||Release date||Distributor||Budget||Box office||Rotten Tomatoes||Metacritic||Notes|
|1||The Secret of NIMH *||July 2, 1982||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists||$7 million||$14,665,733||96%||76||Don Bluth's first independent feature film after leaving Walt Disney Productions|
|2||An American Tail||November 21, 1986||Universal Pictures||$9 million||$84,542,002||70%||38||First feature film with Steven Spielberg|
|3||The Land Before Time||November 18, 1988||$12 million||$84,460,846||71%||66||Second and last feature film with Steven Spielberg|
|4||All Dogs Go to Heaven||November 17, 1989|| United Artists (North America)|
Rank Organisation (United Kingdom)
|$13.8 million||$27,100,027||44%||50||Don Bluth's fourth feature film from his company and his 2nd from MGM/UA. Also, the last Don Bluth film to be shot in open matte.|
|5||Rock-a-Doodle||April 3, 1992|| The Samuel Goldwyn Company (North America)|
Rank Organisation (United Kingdom)
|$18 million||$11,657,385||20%||N/A||The only live-action/animated film by Don Bluth. Also, the only Don Bluth film to be created using two dual aspect ratios, with all animated sequences still shot in open matte, while the live-action portions were shot in widescreen.|
|6||Thumbelina||April 1, 1994||Warner Bros.||$28 million||$11,373,501||30%||The first Don Bluth film to be in widescreen.|
|7||A Troll in Central Park||October 7, 1994||N/A||$71,368||17%|
|8||The Pebble and the Penguin||April 14, 1995|| Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (North America)|
Warner Bros. (International)
|$28 million||$3,983,912||11%||The studio's final feature film |
Also, the last Don Bluth film to use traditional cels.
* denotes works completed by Don Bluth Productions/Bluth Group, prior to the foundation of Sullivan Bluth Studios
Modern animation of the United States from the late 1980s to mid-2000s is referred to as the "renaissance age of American animation". During this period, many large American entertainment companies reformed and reinvigorated their animation departments following a general decline during the 1960s to 1980s. The United States has had a profound effect on animation worldwide. Since the mid-2000s traditional animation would lose interest against digital and Flash animation, naming this current period as the "millennium age of American animation".
Anastasia is a 1997 American animated musical drama film produced and directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman in association with Fox Animation Studios, distributed by 20th Century Fox, and starring the voices of Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Hank Azaria, Christopher Lloyd, Bernadette Peters, Kirsten Dunst, and Angela Lansbury. The film is a loose adaptation of the legend of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, which claims that she escaped the execution of her family. Its basic plot centers around an eighteen-year-old amnesiac orphan named Anya who, in hopes of finding some trace of her family, sides with con men who wish to take advantage of her likeness to the Grand Duchess; thus the film shares its plot with Fox's prior film from 1956, which, in turn, was based on the 1955 play of the same name by Marcelle Maurette.
All Dogs Go to Heaven is a 1989 animated musical fantasy comedy-drama adventure film directed by Don Bluth and co-directed by Gary Goldman and Dan Kuenster. It tells the story of Charlie B. Barkin, a German Shepherd that is murdered by his former friend, Carface Carruthers, but withdraws from his place in Heaven to return to Earth, where his best friend, Itchy Itchiford, still lives, and they team up with a young orphan girl named Anne-Marie, who teaches them an important lesson about kindness, friendship and love.
The Secret of NIMH is a 1982 American animated dark fantasy adventure film directed by Don Bluth in his directorial debut. It is an adaptation of Robert C. O'Brien's 1971 children's novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. The film was produced by Aurora Productions and released by MGM/UA Entertainment Company for United Artists and features the voices of Elizabeth Hartman, Dom DeLuise, Arthur Malet, Derek Jacobi, Hermione Baddeley, John Carradine, Peter Strauss, and Paul Shenar. The "Mrs. Frisby" name in the novel had to be changed to "Mrs. Brisby" during production due to trademark concerns with Frisbee discs. It was followed in 1998 by a direct-to-video sequel called The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue, which was made without Bluth's involvement or input. In 2015, a CGI/live-action remake was reported to be in the works.
Donald Virgil Bluth is an American animator, film director, production designer, video game designer and animation instructor, known for his animated films, including The Secret of NIMH (1982), An American Tail (1986), The Land Before Time (1988), All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989) and Anastasia (1997), for his involvement in the LaserDisc game Dragon's Lair (1983), and for competing with former employer Walt Disney Productions during the years leading up to the films that became the Disney Renaissance. He is the older brother of illustrator Toby Bluth.
An American Tail is a 1986 animated musical adventure comedy-drama film directed by Don Bluth and produced by Sullivan Bluth Inc. and Amblin Entertainment. The film features the voices of Phillip Glasser, John Finnegan, Amy Green, Nehemiah Persoff, Dom DeLuise, and Christopher Plummer. It tells the story of Fievel Mousekewitz and his family as they emigrate from Shostka to the United States for freedom. However, he gets lost and must find a way to reunite with them.
The Land Before Time is a 1988 animated adventure drama film directed and produced by Don Bluth and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy, and Frank Marshall. The film stars the voices of Gabriel Damon, Candace Hutson, Judith Barsi and Will Ryan with narration provided by Pat Hingle.
Gary Wayne Goldman is an American film producer, director, animator, writer and voice actor, he is well known for working on films with Don Bluth such as All Dogs Go to Heaven for his directorial debut, Anastasia, An American Tail, and The Land Before Time. He was an animator at Disney before working at Sullivan Bluth Studios with Bluth.
Fox Animation Studios was an American traditional 2D hand-drawn cel-animated/CGI production company located in Phoenix, Arizona, and was the former in-house feature animation division of 20th Century Fox. After six years of operation, the studio was shut down on June 26, 2000, ten days after the release of its final film, Titan A.E., and was replaced by Fox's Blue Sky Studios division.
Rock-a-Doodle is a 1991 live action/animated musical comedy adventure film produced by Sullivan Bluth Studios and Goldcrest Films. Loosely based on Edmond Rostand's comedy Chantecler, Rock-a-Doodle was directed by Don Bluth and written by David N. Weiss. The film features the voices of Glen Campbell, Christopher Plummer, Phil Harris, Charles Nelson Reilly, Sorrell Booke, Sandy Duncan, Eddie Deezen, Ellen Greene, and Toby Scott Ganger in his film debut. The film was released in the United Kingdom on 2 August 1991 and in the United States and Canada on 3 April 1992.
20th Century Animation, Inc., is an animation subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios. Originally formed in 1994 as a subsidiary of 20th Century Fox, the studio is located in Century City, Los Angeles, and is tasked with producing feature-length films.
Dean DeBlois is a Canadian film director, film producer, screenwriter, and animator. He is best known for writing and directing the Oscar-nominated animated films Lilo & Stitch for Walt Disney Animation Studios, the How to Train Your Dragon film trilogy for DreamWorks Animation, and directing the documentary Heima about the Icelandic band Sigur Rós.
Banjo the Woodpile Cat is a 1979 animated short film directed by Don Bluth. It follows the story of Banjo, an overly curious and rebellious kitten who, after getting into trouble for falling from a house to see if he could land on his feet, runs away from his woodpile home in his owners' farm in Payson, Utah by catching a truck to Salt Lake City. Produced in a shoestring budget, and created in Bluth's garage, the film took four years to make and it was the first production of Don Bluth Productions, later Sullivan Bluth Studios. It premiered theatrically in 1979, and at the USA Film Festival one year later. It was released on DVD by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in 2014.
John Foster Pomeroy is an American animator who has worked for several major studios, including Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sullivan Bluth Studios. He has also worked as producer, and screenwriter on several animated feature films.
The Disney Renaissance is the period from 1989 to 1999 during which Walt Disney Feature Animation returned to producing critically and commercially successful animated films that were mostly based on well-known stories, much as the studio did during the era of Walt Disney during the 1930s to 1960s. The resurgence allowed Disney's animated films to become powerhouse successes at the domestic and foreign box office, earning much greater profit than most of the Disney films of previous eras.
Morris Francis Sullivan was an American businessman who co-founded the Sullivan Bluth Studios with three former Disney animators. Sullivan Bluth Studios employed approximately 400 people at the peak of its success. Under Sullivan's direction, the former animation studio created such films as The Land Before Time and An American Tail.
The Pebble and the Penguin is a 1995 American animated musical comedy-drama adventure film produced and directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, starring the voices of Martin Short and Jim Belushi, and based on the true life mating rituals of the Adélie penguins in Antarctica. It centers around a timid, stuttering penguin named Hubie who tries to impress a beautiful penguin named Marina by giving her a pebble that fell from the sky and keep her from the clutches of an evil penguin named Drake who wants Marina for himself.
Jeffrey James Varab is a leading animator and visual effects artist and one of the pioneers of 3D computer animation. His work on the 1995 film Casper marked the first fully computer-rendered lead character in a feature film, beating Woody and Buzz Lightyear of the fully computer-animated Toy Story by six months.
Dan Kuenster is an American character animator and director, who worked for Walt Disney Animation Studios, BrainPower Studio and Sullivan Bluth Studios, before pursuing educational multimedia projects. He is also formerly Executive Vice President of Design and Animation at Istation in Dallas, Texas.
Gregory Tiernan is an Irish-born, Canadian-based animator, director and voice artist. Along with his wife Nicole Stinn, he founded Nitrogen Studios Canada, Inc. in 2003, through which he introduced CGI to the Thomas & Friends series. Prior to this, Tiernan collaborated on various projects with filmmaker Don Bluth, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Klasky Csupo, Inc.