Animation Adventures

From Sullivan Bluth to Fox Animation: A Legacy in Animation History

The Rise and Fall of Sullivan Bluth Studios

Animation has been an essential part of the entertainment industry for decades, and famous companies such as Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks have proven its popularity. However, there was a moment in the 1980s when Disney’s monopoly on the animation industry prompted Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, and John Pomeroy to take a leap of faith and create Sullivan Bluth Studios.

Leaving Disney

For those who are not familiar with the name, Don Bluth, in particular, was a renowned animator who worked on some of Disney’s most successful films. However, he, along with Goldman and Pomeroy, came to the realization that Disney was becoming complacent in its efforts to push the animation industry forward.

Therefore, it was time for them to part ways and pursue a new path.

The Formative Years

Banjo the Woodpile Cat was the first film that the newly-formed Sullivan Bluth Studios released in 1979. It was a short film that was released directly to video, but it garnered attention from fans of animation.

They followed that up with The Secret of NIMH in 1982, Dragon’s Lair in 1983, and Space Ace in 1984. Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace were not traditional animated films.

Instead, they were video games that incorporated animation in their gameplay. This marked Sullivan Bluth’s first foray into interactive entertainment.

Partnership with Morris Sullivan and the Golden Era

Despite the earlier success, Sullivan Bluth Studios went through a difficult period and ultimately filed for bankruptcy. Luckily, the partnership with Irish businessman Morris Sullivan allowed them to recover financially and resurrect their reputation with the release of An American Tail in 1986.

The film was a huge success and was produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Sullivan Bluth then produced The Land Before Time, which was produced alongside George Lucas’s Lucasfilm.

The film was released in 1988, and its success led to the establishment of the Sullivan Bluth Ireland branch in Dublin.

Moving to Ireland

Sullivan Bluth Studios’ shift to Dublin was somewhat unconventional. It was prompted by the Irish government’s efforts to attract foreign investment to boost the country’s economy.

The studio took advantage of the generous government incentives and moved to Ireland, where it established itself as a significant player in the animation industry. The Land Before Time was also produced during this time, and its success became a pivotal moment for the studio’s new home.

All Dogs Go To Heaven

Though the studio’s time in Ireland proved successful for the most part, they released one of their least successful films,

All Dogs Go To Heaven, in 1989. It would pave the way for the studio’s second bankruptcy filing in 1992.

After the movie’s commercial failure, it led to many questioning the studio’s future prospects.

Changes and Downfall of Sullivan Bluth Studios

However, the studio refused to go down without a fight, and they immediately set to work rebuilding their public image in the United States. They put out feelers with American audiences through various television ads, interviews, and even a cameo on The Simpsons.

Despite their concentrated efforts, their financial situation did not improve, leading to their second bankruptcy filing. After the completion of Rock-A-Doodle, Sullivan Bluth Studios was sold to Goldcrest, and the remaining staff joined Don Bluth Entertainment.

Partnership with Merlin Films and Media Assets

After several attempts to revitalize Sullivan Bluth Studios had failed, the company partnered with Merlin Films and Media Assets in their final years. They produced various films, including Thumbelina, The Pebble and the Penguin, and A Troll in Central Park, but they were all box-office failures.

Closure of Studio

Unfortunately, seemingly like decision making at the Disney Animation studios throughout the 80s, the company would run into a string of box office failures as they approached the end of the 1990s. Unable to keep up financially against competition with other major studios and thus unable to continue funding their projects, Sullivan Bluth Studios ultimately closed its doors for good in 1995.


Sullivan Bluth Studios may have had a brief time in the sun, but it managed to become one of the most successful animation studios on the planet, producing classics that still resonate with audiences to this day. The company’s journey highlights the importance of effective financial management, the ability to recognize when to pivot, and how companies must adapt to changing trends in the industry.

Important lessons still very relevant to this day.

Don Bluth and Gary Goldmans Move to Fox Animation Studios

Don Bluth and Gary Goldmans reputation in the animation industry precedes them. The duo was responsible for creating some of the most iconic animated films of the 1980s, such as The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, The Land Before Time, and

All Dogs Go To Heaven.

However, their time at Sullivan Bluth Studios came to an end in 1995. But that did not stop them from continuing to pursue their dream of telling visually stunning stories through animation.

In this article, we take a closer look at their move to Fox Animation Studios and their subsequent works.

Partnership with Fox Television

Don Bluth and Gary Goldman did not miss a beat after their time at Sullivan Bluth Studios. In 1994, they co-founded Don Bluth Entertainment, and in 1996, the company signed a deal with Fox Television to produce the animated series, The Kid from Left Field.

The show was about a young boy who becomes the manager of a minor-league baseball team, and it lasted for a single season. However, their partnership with Fox Television would eventually lead them to form Fox Animation Studios.

Co-directing Anastasia

Fox Animation Studios was founded in 1994 and was dedicated to producing animated features. Their first feature release was Anastasia, which was co-produced with Fox Family Films.

Don Bluth and Gary Goldman co-directed the film, which was released in 1997. The movie was a commercial and critical success, paving the way for future collaborations between the two and Fox Animation Studios.

Reflection on Sullivan Bluth Studios History and Future

Despite the unfortunate closure of Sullivan Bluth Studios, their legacy and influence on the animation industry remain immeasurable. They were champions of the traditional hand-drawn animation process and paved the way for other studios to follow.

They also added depth and maturity to animated films, proving that animation could be enjoyed by both adults and children alike.

Legacy and Influence of Sullivan Bluth Studios

Sullivan Bluth Studios left an indelible mark on the animation industry. Many of their films, including An American Tail, The Land Before Time, and

All Dogs Go To Heaven, have become timeless classics.

Those movies continue to have a place in the hearts of viewers of all ages, and they are still enjoyed today. Their dedication to storytelling and animations visual beauty will be a source of inspiration for years to come.

Possibility of Animated Classics on Streaming Platforms

The rise of streaming platforms such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu provides an exciting opportunity for classic animated films. These platforms offer a different distribution model and audience reach compared to traditional theaters.

Platforms such as Netflix have already demonstrated their potential in resurrecting animated classics. For example, The Little Prince, originally released in 2016, found its way to Netflix, and the streaming giant helped it find a new and enthusiastic audience.

The potential of streaming platforms to further expand the legacy of Sullivan Bluth Studios and other animators like them is something worth exploring.


Don Bluth and Gary Goldman have been at the forefront of the animation industry for decades, creating unforgettable films at Sullivan Bluth Studios, and beyond. Their move to Fox Animation Studios and their subsequent works continue to enchant audiences worldwide.

The future of animation appears to be bright, and the possibility of rediscovering classics through innovative distribution models shows great promise. Animated films continue to capture the imaginations of audiences around the world, and one can only speculate on the possibilities that the future holds.

In conclusion, the rise and fall of Sullivan Bluth Studios and Don Bluth and Gary Goldman’s subsequent move to Fox Animation Studios demonstrate the evolution of the animation industry and how passion and dedication can lead to the creation of timeless works of art. Their legacy continues to inspire new generations of animators, and the possibility of streaming platforms offering a new way to appreciate classic animated films is an exciting prospect for the future of the industry.

Here are some FAQs that readers might have about this topic:

1. What are some of Sullivan Bluth Studios’ most significant contributions to the animation industry?

Answer: Sullivan Bluth Studios helped pioneer traditionally animated films that tackled more mature themes, paving the way for future studios to create similar works. 2.

What led to the closure of Sullivan Bluth Studios?

Answer: Sullivan Bluth Studios faced financial troubles, which led to their second bankruptcy filing after the release of

All Dogs Go To Heaven.

3. What was the impact of Anastasia on the animation industry?

Answer: Anastasia marked a notable comeback for Don Bluth and Gary Goldman and showcased their ability to create successful CGI-animated films. 4.

How do streaming platforms like Netflix impact classic animated films?

Answer: Streaming platforms offer a new way for classic animated films to reach a new audience and have a second life for years to come.

5. What is the future of the animation industry?

Answer: The animation industry is constantly evolving but will always require skilled and passionate animators to produce works of art that continue to captivate audiences.

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