Universal Animation Studios (formerly Universal Cartoon Studios or Universal Feature Animation) is the animation division of Universal Pictures, tasked for animated productions. The studio has primarily focused upon the production of television and feature animation of other properties. It also has produced direct-to-video sequels to other Universal-released feature films, such as The Land Before Time, An American Tail, and Balto, as well as other films and television series.
The original Walter Lantz Productions cartoon studio was closed down by Universal Studios in 1972 due to the rising costs and declining returns of short subject production. However, before Universal restarted its animation division in 1991, Universal released its first three animated films, such as An American Tail in 1986, The Land Before Time in 1988, and Jetsons: The Movie in 1990. Universal Cartoon Studios opened its doors in 1991 to produce animated feature films and television series for Universal. That same year, the studio produced its very first production, which is an animated television series based on Back to the Future films airing on CBS from 1991 to 1992. At the time when Universal Cartoon Studios was founded in 1991, Universal established its own feature animated department called Universal Feature Animation to produce theatrically released animated feature films.
From 1989–1997, Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment operated Amblimation, a traditional animation studio which was started to compete with Walt Disney Animation Studios, which was experiencing great success at the time with films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King.
The Amblimation studio, however, was not as successful. Their first feature An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, a sequel to 1986's An American Tail, made $40 million at the worldwide box office in 1991, but their next feature, We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, was a box office bomb, only grossed $9.3 million in the United States in 1993, while their third and final feature Balto grossed $11 million worldwide and was overshadowed by the success of the competing Disney•Pixar film Toy Story in 1995. Amblimation was shut down in 1997 and some of its staff went on to join DreamWorks Animation.
Since 1999, Universal became the primary distributor of animated features produced by Gingo Animation, an North Hollywood-based animation company. Universal has had much more success with Gingo, and the box office receipts of their films are competitive with those of Disney and Pixar. By 2004, Gingo became the flagship feature animation division of Universal, which acquired the studio in that year. In 2006, Universal Cartoon Studios was renamed into Universal Animation Studios.
In 2008, Illumination Entertainment, an animation production company founded by Chris Meledandri, made a deal with Universal Studios which positioned Illumination as NBCUniversal’s family entertainment arm within its own feature animation field (which consists of Gingo) that would produce one to three films a year starting in 2010, divided between Gingo and Illumination. Like Gingo Animation, Illumination retains creative control and Universal exclusively distributes the films; many critics and fans of Gingo alike felt that both Gingo and Illumination were meant to help Universal to establish a successful feature animation group and a competitor to Disney's feature animation group which consists of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, respectively.
To maintain the separateness of Gingo and Illumination (even though they share common ownership and senior management), it was outlined that each studio is to remain solely responsible for its own projects and is not allowed to borrow personnel from or lend tasks out to the other.
On April 28, 2016, NBCUniversal announced its intent to acquire DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, making DreamWorks Animation the third animation studio owned by Universal after Gingo and Illumination; the acquisition was later completed on August 22, 2016. On that same day, the television animation divisions of Universal, Gingo and DreamWorks merged.
|#||Title||Release date||Co-production with||Animation service(s)||Composers||Budget||Gross||RT||MC|
|1||Paint World||December 25, 1999||Gingo Animation|| Wang Film Productions|
|Mark Mothersbaugh||$48 million||$452.1 million||94%||69|
|2||The Gabriel Garza Movie||July 31, 2002|| Wang Film Productions|
|James L. Venable||$60 million||$89.8 million||38%||44|
|3||Computeropolis||July 2, 2004||Gingo Computer Animation Department|| John Debney|
|$65 million||$687.1 million||89%||91|
|4||M.I.S.S.I.O.N.||July 1, 2005||Harry Gregson-Williams||$78 million||$293.2 million||84%||76|
|5||Curious George||February 10, 2006||Imagine Entertainment|| Toon City Animation|
|Heitor Pereira||$50 million||$69.8 million||69%||62|
|6||BJ and Wally||July 7, 2006||Gingo Animation||Gingo Computer Animation Department||John Powell||$74 million||$486.5 million||53%||51|
|7||Computeropolis 2||July 6, 2007|| John Debney|
|$77 million||$953.4 million||84%||80|
|8||Swapped||July 2, 2008||Mark Mothersbaugh||$70 million||$376.8 million||51%||49|
|9||The Tale of Despereaux||December 19, 2008||Relativity Media||Framestore Feature Animation||William Ross||$60 million||$86.9 million||56%||53|
|10||Woo La La||March 13, 2009||Gingo Animation||Gingo Computer Animation Department||Hans Zimmer||$81 million||$532.4 million||95%||81|
|11||Computeropolis 3||March 5, 2010||John Debney||$85 million||$783.6 million||43%||57|
|12||Gabriel Garza||July 6, 2011|| Mark Mothersbaugh|
James L. Venable
|13||Plucky Chicken||July 27, 2012||John Debney||$82 million||$426.7 million||59%||51|
|14||Quest||March 1, 2013||Mark Mancina||$97 million||$524.9 million||97%||89|
|15||Gabriel Garza 2||July 2, 2014|| Mark Mothersbaugh|
James L. Venable
|$99 million||$895.6 million||96%||84|
|16||Paradoria||March 6, 2015|| Mark Mothersbaugh|
|$103 million||$1.126 billion||98%||87|
|17||The Planetokio Movie||December 11, 2015||Hans Zimmer||$536.3 million||74%||69|
|18||Imagimals||September 9, 2016||John Debney||$101 million||$1.018 billion||78%||57|
|19||Gabriel Garza 3||March 3, 2017||Mark Mothersbaugh||$110 million||$812.7 million||79%||70|
|20||Lix||December 8, 2017||John Debney||$837.2 million||97%||80|
|#||Title||Release date||Co-production with||Animation service(s)||Composers||Current Production Status|
|21||Computeropolis: The Deep Web||May 4, 2018||Gingo Animation||Gingo Computer Animation Department|| John Debney|
|22||Paradoria 2||April 5, 2019||TBA||Production|
|23||Untitled film||December 6, 2019||TBA||TBA|
|24||Imagimals 2||February 21, 2020||Gingo Animation||Gingo Computer Animation Department||Pre-Production|
|25||Z.O.O.||March 27, 2020|| Aardman Animations|
|Aardman Animations||Harry Gregson-Williams|
|26||Hyper||May 21, 2021|| Gingo Animation|
|Gingo Computer Animation Department||TBA||Development|
|27||Untitled films||December 10, 2021||TBA||TBA|
|28||March 4, 2022||Gingo Animation|
|29||March 3, 2023|
|30||December 22, 2023|
Direct-to-video feature filmsEdit
Produced with Gingo AnimationEdit
- Print 3D Errors (2004)
- Peri and Nicky Get a Flu (2007)
- The Sounds of the Ocean (2009)
- The Chat (2010)
- Game Boys (2011)
- Go Party! (2012)
- Virtual Madness (2013)
- Back in Time (2014)
- Camp Jamo, Noodles, and Getting Annoyed (2015)
- Monkey See, Monkey Sued (2016)
- Busho's Guide to Cool Things (2016)
- Zip (2017)
- Leno Finds Love (2017)
- Double Date (2017)
- Neon (2018)
- Keena's Paradorian Quest (2018)
- Fractured Fairy Tales: The Phox, the Box, & the Lox (1999) (co-production with Jay Ward Productions)
- A Gabriel Garza Christmas (1991) (co-production by Gingo Animation)
- A Wish for Wings That Work (1991) (co-production by Amblin Television)
- Gabriel Goes Hollywood (1993) (co-production by Gingo Animation)
- Gabriel Gets Spooked (1995) (co-production by Gingo Animation)
- Hatty: The Untold Story (1998) (co-production by Gingo Animation)
- The Gabriel Project (1999) (co-production by Gingo Animation)
- Hatty's Weasel-tastic Christmas! (2001) (co-production by Gingo Animation)
- Hatty in the Night of the Living Weasel (2003) (co-production by Gingo Animation)
- Planetokio Rules! (2009) (co-production by Gingo Animation)
- Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas (2009) (co-production by Imagine Entertainment)
- Computeropolis Xmas (2011) (co-production by Gingo Animation)
- It's a Very Gabriel Christmas! (2013) (co-production by Gingo Animation)
- How Murray Saved Christmas (2014) (co-production by Rough Draft Studios)
- Paradoria Holiday (2016) (co-production by Gingo Animation)
- Further information: List of unproduced Universal Studios animated shorts and feature films
- Escape from Jurassic Park, an animated TV series that takes place after the first Jurassic Park movie and before The Lost World: Jurassic Park. While the trailer was made, Steven Spielberg never saw it and cancelled it after the storyboards were finished.
- Crash Bandicoot cut scenes, cut scenes that were unused for the first Crash Bandicoot video game due to the partner companies wanted it all CGI. It was also rumored that these were going to be produced as a TV special or series.
- Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect, another animated Jurassic Park TV series which takes place after The Lost World and before Jurassic Park III. It would also be accompanied by the toy series under the same name by Kenner Toys. It would've involved a group of scientists having created dinosaur hybrids consisting of DNA from different creatures. However, like its predecessor series, its production was cancelled.
- The Tub People, a feature film based on the children's picture book of the same name by Pam Conrad, which was to be produced by Gingo Animation.
- Abalaburn, another Gingo film which based on Gingo Interactive's fighting video game Abalaburn.
- Lina, a feature film based on the 2001 Gingo computer-animated short of the same name.
- Gabriel Garza: Unleashed, a CGI feature film based on the Gabriel Garza series.
- Big Hero 6, yet another Gingo film which is based on the Marvel Comics superhero team Big Hero 6. The project was later moved to Walt Disney Animation Studios as their own film version in 2014.
- The Legend of Spyro 3-D, a feature film based on The Legend of Spyro video games.