Disney may have just ruined one of its biggest franchises

Sid the Sloth in Ice Age
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios / Blue Sky Studios)

Disney Plus has been nothing short of a blessing for several Disney-owned franchises, but the streaming service may have just condemned a once-beloved movie series to the grave. 

While the likes of Marvel and Star Wars have profited hugely from various Disney Plus spin-offs in recent years, the latest Ice Age instalment has left both fans and critics seriously cold.

Released on January 28 as a straight-to-streaming original movie, The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild has been described as a “sad turning point” for a franchise that has generated in excess of $6 billion in revenue (for now-Disney subsidiary 20th Century Studios) over the past two decades. 

Just look at the replies to this tweet, shared by the Disney Plus official Twitter account, promoting the new film:

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“An excellent franchise completely destroyed in just over an hour. Congratulations.” one user wrote, while another described The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild as the “worst movie of the year.” Ouch. 

“[I] didn’t even get through to the 30-minute stage, just awful,” and “wrong voices, wrong animation, boring story,” were among the other scathing criticisms. 

The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild hasn’t fared any better with critics, either. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has just a 17% critics rating, with many commentators taking aim at its lackluster storytelling, poor voice work and cheap-looking animation. 

“While I know I'm not the target audience, I still shouldn't have loathed every second I spent watching The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild,” MovieFreak’s Sara Michelle Fetters wrote. 

Similarly unimpressed, the Associated Press’ Mark Kennedy said of the movie: “Visually and storytelling-wise it's not a cut above much of what kids can watch on TV these days. This is a franchise that looks like it's slowly going the way of the dinos.”

The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild is the sixth feature-length Ice Age film after Ice Age (2002), Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009), Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) and Ice Age: Collision Course (2016).

Granted, none of the franchise’s recent entries have been particularly well-received, but they did all at least feature the same consistently brilliant voice cast that made the original Ice Age movie so popular. 

So, despite the re-appearance of beloved characters Manny, Sid and Diego, there’s no sign of voice actors John Leguizamo, Ray Romano or Dennis Leary in The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild – Simon Pegg is the only returnee, as the titular weasel. 

Tellingly, the new movie is also the first in the Ice Age franchise to have been made without the involvement of Blue Sky Studios, hence its unfamiliar (and evidently unpopular) animation style.

A history of franchise-killing  

Of course, it’s unlikely that one bad movie would sound the death knell for a two-decades-spanning franchise – especially one as lucrative as Ice Age – but Disney has a history of producing poorly-received sequels to animated classics.

Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, for instance, sapped audience interest in any future instalments featuring the once-beloved cast of characters from the 1992 original movie. Despite the return of voice actors Scott Weinger and Linda Larkin, this 1994 made-for-video sequel (the first of its kind) was panned by critics for its inferior production values and forgettable songs. 

Still image from Aladdin: The Return of Jafar

Aladdin: The Return of Jafar was criticized for its unappealing animation style (Image credit: The Walt Disney Company)

Genie voice actor Robin Williams was summoned back for a third Aladdin movie, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, in 1996, but the magic of the franchise had long since disappeared – and audiences wouldn’t see another Disney-produced Aladdin feature until 2019’s live-action remake. 

It remains to be seen whether the scathing response to The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild condemns the Ice Age franchise to the grave, but the movie’s executive producer, Lori Forte, has nonetheless expressed an interest in future instalments. 

She told ScreenRant, "We hope that people will respond to this [movie], and that [this] will promote us to be able to do another movie. If the audiences want it, we've got plenty of ideas. There's no end to ideas and adventures and characters, so we're ready if they're ready."

By the looks of things, though, audiences have had quite enough of Buck Wild – and potentially Ice Age as a whole.

Axel Metz
Senior Staff Writer

Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.