Walt Disney Studios has brought on board Animation Studios president Andrew Millstein and Zootopia producer and creative executive Clark Spencer into new leadership positions as it integrates Blue Sky into its portfolio of kid-friendly brands.
Millstein will serve as the co-president of Blue Sky, the studio behind Ice Age and Rio, alongside current co-president Robert Baird.
Baird will continue to drive the creative direction of the studio reporting to Walt Disney Studios’ chief creative officer and co-chairman Alan Horn and co-chairman Alan Bergman. Millstein, who has served as president of Walt Disney Animation Studios since 2014 and as its general manager since 2008, will oversee day-to-day operations, focusing more on the business side. He will report to Jim Morris, who will take on a supervisory role at Blue Sky. Besides Blue Sky, Millstein will continue as the president of Pixar Animation Studios. His credits include Oscar-winning hits such as Moana, Tangled, and Zootopia.
Spencer has been named president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, reporting to Bergman and working alongside Walt Disney Animation Studios chief creative officer Jennifer Lee. This three-decade Disney veteran’s credits include Zootopia, Lilo & Stitch and Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Disney bought Blue Sky Studios as part of 21st Century Fox’s $71.3 billion acquisition of most of film and television assets. These changes have been made after Andrea Miloro left as co-president of Blue Sky Studios.
“We are incredibly proud of the strength and depth of leadership in our animation studios, and Andrew, Clark, and Jim are all exemplars of that. The remarkable success of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios over the past decade is due in large part to the respective leadership of Andrew and Jim and their ability to foster creativity, technology, and culture in equal parts, and we are thrilled that they will be lending their experience to the Blue Sky team along with Robert Baird’s creative guidance,” Horn and Bergman said in a joint statement.
The company is well-known for producing lower-cost animated hits, but its future has been uncertain because Disney has a wealth of talent in the family entertainment space at both its animated division and at Pixar. There had been some speculation that Blue Sky might be phased out after it releases its next few films or turned into a producer of content for Disney Plus, the company’s forthcoming streaming service. Friday’s announcement doesn’t provide much in the way of clarity, but it does signal that Disney is exerting more control and putting a greater imprint on its new purchases.
Blue Sky’s upcoming releases include Spies in Disguise, a buddy comedy with the voices of Will Smith and Tom Holland, and Nimona, an adaptation of a graphic novel.