Disney's massive investor day announcements flowed for hours, from all of the studio's major labels. One of the, perhaps, smaller announcements was for a spin-off from an animated franchise hatched by its recent acquisition, 20th Century Studios. The animated movies in the Ice Age franchise have been successful in their own right, if not by core Disney animation standards. A spin-off from that series, Ice Age: Adventures of Buck Wild will get an exclusive premier on Disney+.
There is very little known about the Ice Age story lines, other than the series will center on the prankster possum brothers, Crash and Eddie, and the swashbuckling weasel, Buck - the inspiration for the title. Simon Pegg will return in the role of Buck, but other casting news has not yet been released. The series is scheduled to release in early 2022. Ice Age is the rare highly successful animation franchise within the Disney empire that is NOT a Disney or related animation film series.
The original Ice Age was released in 2002, with Ice Age: The Meltdown following in 2006, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs releasing in 2009, Ice Age: Continental Drift in 2012, and Ice Age: Collision Course appearing in 2016. The series features voice work from Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary and Chris Wedge, who have been the only consistently returning voice cast members. In all, the franchise has generated well over $6 billion in revenue making it one of the highest grossing franchises of all time, very nearly catching the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) series films, and one of the top grossing non-Disney animation series in history. While the series uses a very different style of animation than any of the Disney (or sub-label) animated features, it is a rare animated gem from a non-Disney studio and a standout among the acquired 20th Century Studio family titles.
In addition to the 5 feature films, the universe has given rise to several shorts, including Gone Nutty, No Time for Nuts, Surviving Sid, Scrat's Continental Crack-Up, Scrat's Continental Crack-Up: Part 2, Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe and Scrat: Spaced Out, which have largely focused on Scrat, the beloved squirrel who desperately and stubbornly spends his time across all manner of challenges, trying to store his acorns. In 2016, predating the Disney acquisition, Galen T. Chu, the co-director of Ice Age: Collision Course and a staple of the animation department on several of the other films, revealed that there were ideas for a next installment, but little has been said after the Disney acquisition about the likelihood of a 6th feature animated feature.
If Disney can make a success out of titles and franchises it purchased in the 20th Century acquisition, it will bolster their already exceedingly impressive record of successfully integrating major content acquisitions, which have also included Pixar (2006), Marvel (2009) and Lucasfilm (2012). With the digestion of these major deals, including 20th Century, Disney has created the largest and most popular archive of content in the world to both release to its streaming properties (including Disney+ and Hulu, which have been rumored to be on a path to merger).
Beyond the massive library, though, is the almost inconceivably large pool of intellectual property, across titles, franchise, characters and stories that Disney+ can mine for prequels, sequels and spin-offs. Ice Age: Adventures of Buck Wild is just the latest glimmer of proof that Disney may harbor the most creative and energetic batch of storytellers available, already hard at work in the Disney mines churning out content like so many hardworking dwarves of Snow White fame.