‘Ice Age’ & ‘Robots’

Chris Wedge is a producer and director who first became interested in animation when he was 12 years old.  After graduating from Fayetteville-Manlius High School, he attended Purchase College in NY, where he received his BFA in Film.  He went on to earn his MA in computer graphics and art education at Ohio State University.  In 1982, he worked for MAGI/SynthaVision.  He was a principal animator on Steven Lisberger’s Tron, where he was credited as a scene programmer.  He co-founded Blue Sky Studios in February 1987 with Carl Ludwig, Dr. Eugene Troubetzkoy, Alison Brown, David Brown and Michael Ferraro.  20th Century Fox’s visual effects company VIFX acquired Blue Sky in 1997 to form a new visual effects and animation company.  In March 1999, Fox sold VIFX to Rhythm and Hues Studios, but kept Blue Sky.  Wedge would make his 1999 short Bunny, which would win him an Academy Award for Best Animated Short.  In honor of today’s release of Epic, I’ll be taking a look back at Wedge’s two previous directorial efforts, the Oscar-nominated Ice Age and Robots.

Directed by Wedge, 2002’s Ice Age centers on a saber-toothed tiger, a sloth, and a wooly mammoth who find a lost human infant and try to return him to his tribe.  Featuring the voices of Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Chris Wedge, Goran Visnjic, Jack Black, Diedrich Bader, Alan Tudyk, Cedric the Entertainer, Stephen Root, and Jane Krakowski, this critically acclaimed film cost $59 million to make and grossed $383 million worldwide ($176 million domestically and $207 million internationally).  It was originally supposed to be directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, and produced in traditional animation by Fox Animation Studios.  However, Fox shut down its traditional animation division due to the rise of CG animation and 2000’s Titan A.E. flopping at the box office.  Fox then moved Ice Age to Blue Sky (becoming Blue Sky’s first CG-animated feature film) with Wedge taking over directorial duties (Carlos Saldanha would serve as co-director).  Wedge not only directed the film, but also voiced Scrat, who was featured in the film’s first trailer and has appeared in a few shorts of his own.  Ice Age would also feature a terrific score by David Newman.  Among the film’s accolades are seven Annie Award nominations, as well as nods from the Phoenix Film Critics Society Saturn, Broadcast Film Critics Association, and Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature.

Directed by Wedge, 2005’s Robots centers on a young idealistic inventor on a robot world travels to the big city to join his inspiration’s company only to find Robots2005Poster.jpghimself opposing its sinister new management.  Featuring the voices of Ewan McGregor, Robin Williams, Halle Berry, Amanda Bynes, Mel Brooks, Greg Kinnear, Drew Carey, Jennifer Coolidge, Harland Williams, Jim Broadbent, Dianne Wiest, Stanley Tucci, Natasha Lyonne, Paul Giamatti, Dan Hedaya, Jay Leno, Terry Bradshaw, and John Mahoney, this critically acclaimed film cost $75 million to make and grossed $260 million worldwide ($128 million domestically and $132 million internationally).  The big city in the film was influenced by New York, Toronto, and London, as well as the 1927 film Metropolis.  The film was originally conceived as a 1930s screwball comedy with musical numbers, but that idea was nixed.  The Blue Man Group was brought in to provide percussion sounds for John Powell’s eclectic score.  Among the film’s accolades are two Annie Award nods, a Visual Effects Society Award nod for Outstanding Performance By An Animated Character (for Robin Williams’ character, Fender), and Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award and Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award nods for Best Animated Feature.

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