Disney is shutting down Blue Sky Studios and won't release its final movie, "Nimona."
Staffers say it was on track to be completed by October ahead of its planned January 2022 release.
Now the movie likely won't ever be completed and staffers say it's "heartbreaking."
Blue Sky Studios' final movie will likely never see the light of day and staffers say it's a big disappointment.
The animation studio, which was behind the "Ice Age" movies and more, will close for good at the end of April. Disney inherited the Connecticut-based studio in its Fox acquisition in 2019. But the company announced last week that it would shut down the studio after 34 years due to the "current economic realities" of the coronavirus pandemic.
Disney also canceled the release of the studio's final feature, "Nimona," which was to be directed by Patrick Osborne and based on the web-comic-turned-graphic-novel by Noelle Stevenson.
"The worst feeling is that 'Nimona' is not going to be seen by the world," a Blue Sky staffer told Insider of the company shutdown. "We all believed in it."
Four Blue Sky staffers that Insider spoke with expressed disappointment that "Nimona" wouldn't be released, noting that it featured LGBTQ themes rarely seen in animated movies.
The staffers requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
In a statement, a Disney studio spokesperson said: "Given the current economic realities, after much consideration and evaluation, we have made the difficult decision to close filmmaking operations at Blue Sky Studios."
"Nimona," which first landed at Fox Animation and Blue Sky in 2015, takes place in a futuristic medieval setting and follows a young shape shifter who teams up with a villainous knight to take down a corrupt government.
The movie faced "hiccups" over the years, the first staffer said, notably a leadership change after the Disney-Fox merger (Disney named the former Disney Animation president Andrew Millstein as copresident in 2019). And the last Blue Sky movie, "Spies in Disguise," faced several delays that hindered "Nimona," the staffer said.
But the four staffers said that it felt like business as usual at Blue Sky right up until a virtual town hall on February 9 that was scheduled that same day, in which leadership broke the news to the studio's 450 employees.
"It's heartbreaking to put so much time into a project and then have it not release," a second staffer said. "It didn't look like anything else in the animated world. It's a big loss of effort and time."
The staffers said that Blue Sky was revamping its software from the ground up in an effort to modernize. They called "Nimona" a step forward for the company. A third staffer said that people were enthusiastic about "Nimona" in a way they hadn't been for other recent projects. This staffer even stayed at the studio just to finish the movie after considering a career change.
The fourth staffer speculated that Blue Sky's ambitions may have contributed to Disney's decision, though, as it had already spent a lot of money and more was needed.
"Between that and COVID affecting the larger Disney business ... Blue Sky needed too much to survive," this person said.
The first staffer said "Nimona" was on track to be finished by October ahead of its planned January 2022 release date. Now, staffers don't think it will ever be completed and released, as another studio would have to step in to finish it.
"Absolutely blew me away and I'm so heartbroken you won't be able to see it," Stevenson tweeted last Friday after seeing reels and art from the film. "Blue Sky was making something really special."
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