Chris Meledandri

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Chris Meledandri
Chris Meledandri at the 2018 Fast Company Innovation Festival 1.jpg
Meledandri in 2018
Born
Christopher Meledandri

(1959-05-15) May 15, 1959 (age 63)
New York City, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Alma materDartmouth College
OccupationFilm producer
EmployerIllumination
Notable work
Ice Age
Despicable Me
Minions
The Secret Life of Pets
Sing
Title
  • Founder and CEO, Illumination
Spouse(s)
Leslie Benzinger
(m. 2002; div. 2016)

Christopher Meledandri (/mɛlɛdɑːndr/;[stress?] born May 15, 1959) is an American film producer and founder and CEO of Illumination. He is best known as the producer of the Despicable Me franchise and the Sing franchise.

Early life[edit]

Meledandri was born in New York City to Roland Meledandri, a men's fashion designer, and Risha Meledandri, an activist, growing up in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.[1] He attended Dartmouth College.[2]

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Meledandri's first job in the film industry came when he worked as an assistant to executive producer Daniel Melnick on the set of Footloose.[1] Meledandri afterwards was the producer for a series of small films, before working as a producer for the 1993 Disney film Cool Runnings, which was a financial success.[1][3] Soon after Meledandri was hired by 20th Century Fox, where executives presumed that the success of Cool Runnings showcased Meledandri's ability to produce financially successful family films.[3] After a series of collaborations with filmmaker John Hughes Meledandri was placed in charge of 20th Century Animation.[3] One of the first films released under Meledandri's tutelage was the animated science fiction film Titan A.E. (2000), a costly box office bomb whose failure almost caused him to be fired, and which caused Fox Animation Studios to be shut down.[3]

Blue Sky Studios[edit]

In 1998, Meledandri led Fox's acquisition of fledgling visual effects house Blue Sky Studios, which became a commercially successful production studio. He oversaw the creative and business operations of Blue Sky, which became wholly owned by Fox.[4][5] While at the studio, Meledandri supervised and/or executive produced films including Ice Age (2002), Robots (2005), Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), and Dr. Seuss Horton Hears a Who! (2008). He also produced two animated shorts, Gone Nutty (2002) and No Time for Nuts (2006), both were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

2007–present: Illumination[edit]

Meledandri left as President of 20th Century Fox Animation in early 2007, being replaced by Vanessa Morrison, and founded Illumination, an animated film production company that was co-owned by Universal Pictures, which fully financed and owned the films.[6] Fox had attempted to retain Meledandri, but it was reported by the Los Angeles Times that Universal's offer of an ownership stake in Illumination had persuaded him to switch.[4] Meledandri's deal with Universal gave him a portion of box-office returns made by Illumination, and as of 2011 he also owned an undisclosed stake in the studio.[1] In 2010, Illumination released its first film, Despicable Me, which became successful. Meledandri built a good relationship with chairman of NBCUniversal Stephen Burke, who liked Meledandri's propensity for producing animated films on a relatively low budget.[1] Illumination released a film version of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, which continued the successful collaboration between Meledandri and Theodor (Dr. Seuss) Geisel's widow, Audrey.[2] He also produced the franchise spin-off prequel, Minions (2015) and the sequels to Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2 (2013) and Despicable Me 3 (2017).

2016–present: DreamWorks Animation and Nintendo[edit]

On April 28, 2016, NBCUniversal announced its intent to acquire competing studio DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion. It was announced that Meledandri would oversee both Illumination and DreamWorks following the completion of the merger.[7] However, it was later announced that Meledandri had declined to oversee DreamWorks, and will instead be a consultant at the studio. On November 6, 2018, it was announced that Meledandri will be helping Universal and DreamWorks to revive the Shrek franchise.[8][9][10] Meledandri intends, however, to retain the original voice actors, as he pointed out they were perhaps the most memorable parts of the series.

In January 2018, Nintendo announced during a fiscal meeting that Illumination would be developing an animated Mario film and that Meledandri will co-produce the film with Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. On July 5, 2021, it was reported that Melendandri would join Nintendo's board of directors "as an independent and non-executive outside director", in order to help Nintendo through their filmmaking experience as the company moves towards developing films after Illumination's Super Mario Bros. film.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Meledandri is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and is a member of the board of trustees at The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. He has two sons, born c. 1990 and 1998.[12]

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

Year Title Notes
1986 Quicksilver Associate Producer
1989 Brothers in Arms Producer
1990 Opportunity Knocks
1993 Fly by Night Executive Producer
Swing Kids
Cool Runnings
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit Co-Executive Producer
1994 Trial by Jury Producer
2002 Ice Age Executive Producer
Gone Nutty
2005 Robots
2006 Ice Age: The Meltdown
No Time for Nuts
2008 Horton Hears a Who![4]
2010 Despicable Me Producer
2011 Hop
2012 The Lorax
2013 Despicable Me 2
2015 Minions[13]
2016 The Secret Life of Pets[14]
Sing
2017 Despicable Me 3[15]
2018 The Grinch[16]
2019 The Secret Life of Pets 2[17]
2021 Sing 2
2022 Minions: The Rise of Gru
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish Executive Producer[18]
2023 Untitled Mario film[19] Producer
Migration
2024 Despicable Me 4

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Barnes, Brooks (April 3, 2011). "For Illumination Entertainment, Animation Meets Economic Reality". The New York Times. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Archibald, Sophia (May 10, 2011). "In nod to other famous alum., Meledandri produces 'Lorax'". The Dartmouth. Archived from the original on May 16, 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Garrahan, Matthew (January 6, 2014). "Chris Meledandri, the man who has made millions from Minions". Financial Times. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Munoz, Lorenza; Verrier, Richard (January 19, 2007). "Head of Fox animation division signs with rival Universal Studios". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 21, 2022.
  5. ^ Baisley, Sarah (January 18, 2007). "Universal Pictures Lures Chris Meledandri From 20th Century Fox Animation". Animation World Network. Retrieved April 21, 2022.
  6. ^ Kilday, Gregg (December 9, 2016). "Illumination's Chris Meledandri Talks Success Secrets, Rumors He'll Head DreamWorks". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  7. ^ "Comcast's NBCUniversal buys DreamWorks Animation in $3.8-billion deal". Los Angeles Times. April 28, 2016. Archived from the original on November 29, 2019. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  8. ^ Lang, Brett (November 6, 2018). "'Shrek,' 'Puss in Boots' Getting Rebooted (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Archived from the original on November 6, 2018. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  9. ^ Lang, Brent (November 6, 2018). "How Chris Meledandri Became the Most Powerful Man in Animation". Variety. Archived from the original on November 8, 2018. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  10. ^ Palmeri, Christopher; Sakoui, Anousha (September 12, 2017). "In Dismal Summer, 'Despicable Me 3' Producer Delivers $1 Billion". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on September 29, 2017. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  11. ^ Q&A Summary
  12. ^ S. Cohen, David (October 26, 2013). "Chris Meledandri: Event Films Are Cannibalizing Each Other". Variety. Archived from the original on October 28, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  13. ^ Mike Fleming (July 23, 2012). "Illumination And Universal Hatch 'Despicable Me' Spinoff About The Minions". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 24, 2012. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 24, 2014). "Chris Meledandri's Illumination Sets Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet And Kevin Hart For 3D Animated 'Pets' Pic At Universal". Deadline. Archived from the original on January 27, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  15. ^ Bond, Paul (September 11, 2013). "Steve Burke: NBC's Ratings Woes Hurting Revenues". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 14, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2013. A third film is in the works, as is a Christmastime spinoff about the Minions.
  16. ^ Kroll, Justin (October 8, 2013). "Universal, Illumination to reboot 'The Grinch'". Variety. Archived from the original on February 10, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
  17. ^ Mandell, Andrea (August 2, 2016). "Get Ready for 'Secret Life of Pets 2'". USA Today. Archived from the original on August 6, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  18. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (March 15, 2022). "'Puss in Boots: The Last Wish' Trailer Recounts the Nine Lives of the Leche Whisperer". Animation Magazine. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  19. ^ Nintendo of America [@NintendoAmerica] (January 31, 2018). "Nintendo and Illumination are partnering on a movie starring Mario, co-produced by Shigeru Miyamoto and Chris Meledandri!" (Tweet). Archived from the original on February 25, 2018. Retrieved April 2, 2020 – via Twitter.

External links[edit]