CalArts animation alumni help generate $1.5 billion at 2014 box office

Peter Del Vecho, left, Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck accept the Oscar for best animated feature for "Frozen" last year.
Peter Del Vecho, left, Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck accept the Oscar for best animated feature for “Frozen” last year.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

It’s been a busy year for alumni of California Institute of the Arts.

The Valencia institution, founded by Walt Disney and his brother Roy, reported that movies directed by graduates from CalArts’ animation programs generated $1.5 billion in box-office revenue in 2014.

“This extraordinary total for 2014 illustrates how alumni of CalArts Character and Experimental Animation Programs continue to define the industry,” Leighton Pierce, dean of the CalArts School of Film, said in a statement.

Overall, movies directed by the school’s alumni have generated over $31.5 billion in box-office grosses since 1985.


“The first generation of CalArts directors contributed to a phenomenal resurgence of animation at the box office which continues to this day,” Pierce said.

Last year’s alumni box-office haul is in large part due to the success of Disney’s Oscar-award winning film “Frozen,” helmed by CalArts alumni Chris Buck with Jennifer Lee.

The Walt Disney Pictures’ computer-animated 3-D musical is loosely inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen.” The film follows princess sisters Anna (voiced by Kristin Bell) and Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel).

The film has made more than $400 million in the U.S. and Canada since its debut in November 2013. It has pulled in more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office.

Buck was previously nominated for an Oscar for 2007’s “Surf’s Up.”

In the last year, alumni also worked on animated films such as “The Book of Life” (Gorge Gutierrez), “The Boxtrolls” (Anthony Stacchi) and “Big Hero 6” (Don Hall).

“CalArts’ next generation ranges from gifted students to young professionals such as animators, storyboard and character artists and up-and-coming directors and show creators, as well as independent filmmakers and artists,” Pierce added. “They are sure to impact the industry creatively and economically in the years to come.”


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