A few months ago we posted about the history of a few animation studios that even with successful projects and stable times, have since folded or been bought out by larger studios or corporations. We'd like to continue this series and showcase a few more studios that once upon a time were profitable and prosperous before their closure. Interestingly enough, all these companies in some way or another, folded their assets or staff into DreamWorks Animation, who as of Monday, is now owned by Universal.
United Productions of America (UPA)
United Productions of America (better known as UPA), started at the beginning of the 1941 Disney Animator strike. The American animation studio began with industrial and World War II training films. UPA, active from the 1940's to the 1970's, eventually began developing and creating shorts, most notably Mr. Magoo. UPA, unlike Disney, believed animation did not have to be as realistic as possible, and could be more creative. Although their original goal was to expand the boundaries of animation, unfortunately they began accomplishing quite the opposite. After 20 years of low budget and poorly made cartoons, the animation studio started to dwindle. In 2000 UPA was sold to Classic Media, and in 2012, Classic Media was bought by DreamWorks Animation.
Amblination, founded in 1989 was an animation production division of Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment. The studio, known for their quieter atmosphere and slower pace only produced 3 films. In 1997, while working on their 4th film, an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats the studio was shut down due to underperformance at the box office (Cats was never completed). Many staff members went on to work at DreamWorks Animation. Amblination's most notable film was An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, the character Fievel was even featured on Amblination's company logo.
Pacific Data Images (PDI)
PDI, a computer animation production company, was founded in 1980 by Carl Rosendahl with a loan of $25,000 by his father. In 1981, he was joined by Richard Chang and in 1982 by Glenn Entis. Richard and Glen worked on the in-house computer animation software that PDI would use for the next 20 years. PDI's goal was to deliver "Entertainment using 3D computer animation". In 2000, DreamWorks bought PDI, releasing feature films such as Antz and Shrek. By 2005, PDI had created over 1000 projects and grown to about 400 employees. In 2015, due to a larger restructuring effort within the company, DreamWorks dismantled their PDI division. All 3 founders have since gone off to pursue their own ventures.
Stay tuned for more Animation Studios of the Past posts in the near future!