Illumination Entertainment

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Not to be confused with Illumination Pictures.
Illumination Entertainment
Subsidiary of Universal Studios
Industry Film
Genre Various
Founded 2007
Founder Chris Meledandri
Headquarters Santa Monica, California, United States
Key people
Janet Healy
Eddie Egan[1]
Natalie Fischer (COO)[2]
Products Films
Owner NBCUniversal (Comcast)
Number of employees
35 (2012)[2]
300 (Illumination Mac Guff) (2012)[2]
Parent Universal Studios
Subsidiaries Illumination Mac Guff

Illumination Entertainment is an American animation film production company, founded by Chris Meledandri in 2007. It has an exclusive financing and distribution partnership with Universal Studios, it is based in Santa Monica, California.[3] The company is best known for its first animated feature film Despicable Me (released in 2010), its sequel, Despicable Me 2 (2013) and its first $1 billion highest-grossing film and prequel/spin-off to the Despicable Me films, Minions (2015).


Meledandri left his post as President of 20th Century Fox Animation in early 2007 where he supervised or executive produced movies including Ice Age, its sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown, Robots, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Horton Hears a Who!. After leaving, he founded Illumination Entertainment. By 2008, a deal was announced positioning Illumination as NBCUniversal’s family entertainment arm that would produce one to two films a year starting in 2010. It is owned by Universal who exclusively distributes the films, but Illumination retains creative control as an independent production company. During the summer 2011, Illumination acquired the animation department of the French animation and visual effects studio Mac Guff, which animated Despicable Me and The Lorax, and formed Illumination Mac Guff.[4][5][6]


Meledandri is determined to keep his company adhering to a low-cost model, recognizing that “strict cost controls and hit animated films are not mutually exclusive.”[7] In an industry where movie expenses often exceed $100 million, Illumination’s first two releases were completed with significantly lower budgets, considering Despicable Me’s $69 million budget and the $63 million budget of Hop.[7] One way the company sustains a lean financial model is by employing cost-conscious animation techniques that lower the expenses and render times of its computer graphics.[7]

Current projects[edit]

The studio's first film, 3D CGI feature, Despicable Me, starring Steve Carell was released on July 9, 2010, and was a smash hit, earning $56 million on its opening weekend, and going on to earn $251 million domestically and $543 million worldwide. Illumination's second film was the live action/CGI hybrid Hop, starring Russell Brand and James Marsden. The talking-animal flick opened to a much bigger than expected $37 million opening, and ended up with $108 million domestically and $183 million worldwide. In 2012, an adaptation of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, debuted on March 2 earning $70 million on its opening weekend, and eventually found its way to $214 million stateside and $348 million worldwide. The studio's first sequel, Despicable Me 2, opened in the United States on July 3, 2013, earning worldwide over $964 million,[8] becoming the second highest-grossing 2013 animated film and breaking a record as the most profitable Universal Studios film in its 100-year history.[9]

Illumination has wrapped up production on the spin-off to Despicable Me, titled Minions, released on July 10, 2015.[10] It has grossed over $1 billion worldwide. It will be followed by two original animated stories.[11] The Secret Life of Pets, will be released on July 8, 2016.[12] Directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney, it will feature Louis C.K. as a smart terrier rescue Max,[13] Eric Stonestreet as a mongrel Duke, and Kevin Hart as a bunny Snowball.[14] Taking place in a Manhattan apartment building, Max's life as a favourite pet is turned upside down, when his owner brings home a sloppy mongrel Duke. They have to put their quarrels behind, when they find out that an adorable white bunny Snowball is building an army of abandoned pets determined to take revenge on all happy-owned pets and their owners.[14] Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Lake Bell, Ellie Kemper and Albert Brooks also joins the cast. Kemper as Max and Duke's owner, Moynihan as a small but tough pug named Mel who loves to flirt, Bell as a sarcastic cat Chloe and Brooks as a pet Tiberius.[15] The second film, Sing, a comedy about "courage, competition and carrying a tune," written and directed by Garth Jennings, will be released on December 21, 2016.[16] Despicable Me 3 is scheduled to be released on June 30, 2017, and Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! on November 17, 2017, directed by Pete Candeland from an adaptation by Michael LeSieur.[16]

Other films in development include the animated feature adaptation of Ricky Gervais' Flanimals books and a CGI adaptation of the Uglydoll toy franchise, which creators David Horvath and Sun-Min-Kim will executive produce.[17]

In May 2011, Illumination announced that it would be working with Universal Studios to create, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, a 3-D ride at Universal Studios in Orlando and Hollywood.[18] The ride officially opened on July 2, 2012 in Orlando and in Hollywood on April 12, 2014.


Feature films[edit]

Released films[edit]

# Title Release date Budget[19] Gross[19] RT MC[20]
1 Despicable Me July 9, 2010 $69 million $543 million 81% 72
2 Hop April 1, 2011 $63 million $184 million 25% 41
3 Dr. Seuss' The Lorax March 2, 2012 $70 million $349 million 54% 46
4 Despicable Me 2 July 3, 2013 $76 million $971 million 74% 62
5 Minions July 10, 2015 $74 million $1.157 billion 54% 56

Upcoming films[edit]

Title Release date Refs.
The Secret Life of Pets July 8, 2016 [12][21][22][23][24][14][25][26]
Sing December 21, 2016 [23][24][27]
Despicable Me 3 June 30, 2017 [27][28]
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! November 17, 2017 [27][29]
Untitled film July 13, 2018 [30]
Untitled film July 3, 2019 [30]
Untitled film July 10, 2020 [30]

Films in development[edit]

Title Refs.
Flanimals [11][31]
Pluto [32]
Gospel for Teens [33]
Untitled Dr. Seuss biopic [34]
Emily the Strange [34]
Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat [35]
Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase [36]
Johnny Express [37][38]

Short films[edit]

# Title Release date
1 Home Makeover, Orientation Day and Banana December 14, 2010
2 Brad & Gary [39][40][41] 2012
3 Phil's Dance Party [42] March 23, 2012
4 Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem July 2, 2012
5 Serenade, Wagon-Ho and Forces of Nature [43] August 7, 2012
6 Puppy, Panic in the Mailroom and
Training Wheels
December 10, 2013
7 Cro Minion, Competition and Binky Nelson Unpacified[45] December 8, 2015

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fleming, Mike (May 15, 2011). "Universal Marketing Head Eddie Egan Moving To Top Illumination Post". Retrieved June 15, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Fleming, Mike (August 7, 2012). "Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Names Natalie Fischer COO". Deadline. Retrieved August 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ Michael Fleming (March 5, 2008). "Meledandri, Universal team on deals - Entertainment News, Exclusives, Media". Variety. Retrieved March 26, 2010. 
  4. ^ Fleming, Mike (November 14, 2011). "Universal Pictures Buys Paris Animation Unit For Chris Meledandri’s Illumination". Deadline. Retrieved November 15, 2011. 
  5. ^ Juridic informations about Illumination Mac Guff
  6. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (December 12, 2011). "Universal benefit in Mac Guff accord". Variety. Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c Barnes, Brooks (April 3, 2011). "For Illumination Entertainment, Animation Meets Economic Reality". Retrieved June 15, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Despicable Me 2 (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 17, 2014. 
  9. ^ Szalai, Georg (July 31, 2013). "NBCUniversal CEO: 'Despicable Me 2' Will Be Most Profitable Film in Universal's History". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  10. ^ Fleming, Mike (February 11, 2013). "Sandra Bullock To Voice Super-Villain In ‘Minions’ Spinoff For Illumination/Universal". Deadline. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Debruge, Peter (July 17, 2013). "Illumination Chief Chris Meledandri Lines Up Originals for Universal". Variety. Retrieved September 13, 2013. After the Minion movie, the next two movies will return to telling completely original stories. 
  12. ^ a b Shaw, Lucas (February 12, 2013). "Universal Dates Mystery Illumination Movie for 2015". The Wrap. Retrieved February 15, 2013. 
  13. ^ Sneider, Jeff (January 24, 2014). "Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet to Voice Pets in Animated Movie From ‘Despicable Me’ Team". The Wrap. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b c Fleming Jr, Mike (January 24, 2014). "Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Sets Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet And Kevin Hart For 3D Animated ‘Pets’ Pic At Universal". Deadline. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  15. ^ Sneider, Jeff. "Albert Brooks in Negotiations for Illuminations 'Pets' Project; 4 More Join Voice Cast (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "‘Despicable Me 3′ Set For June 2017 Release; ‘Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ Arrives Five Months Later". Deadline. January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  17. ^ Fleming, Mike (May 26, 2011). "Chris Meledandri's Illumination To Turn Uglydoll Into Animated Film". Retrieved May 28, 2011. 
  18. ^ Vary, Adam B. (May 19, 2011). "Universal Parks announces new 'Despicable Me' ride, and a major face-lift for 'Spider-Man'". Retrieved June 15, 2011. 
  19. ^ a b "Illumination Entertainment Moviesat the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 12, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Illumination Entertainment's Profile". Metacritic. Retrieved April 12, 2015. 
  21. ^ Marc Graser Senior Writer @marcgraser (2013-09-10). "Universal, Illumination Move their Minions to Summer 2015". Variety. Retrieved 2013-09-20. 
  22. ^ "Untitled Illumination Entertainment 2015 Project". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 14, 2013. 
  23. ^ a b Hopewell, John (January 8, 2014). "France Fights Bidding War to Lure Hollywood Filmmakers". Variety. Retrieved January 9, 2014. Universal now has “Max” and “Lunch” set up at Illumination MacGuff. 
  24. ^ a b "Tax Rebate for International Production - Films Supported" (PDF). Film France. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Liste des sorties Suisse Romande" (PDF). Universal Pictures International. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  26. ^ Lowe, Kinsey. "‘Pets’ Project Gets Title: ‘The Secret Life Of Pets". Deadline. Retrieved 2015-04-16. 
  27. ^ a b c "Universal Dates 'Despicable Me 3,' New 'Grinch Who Stole Christmas'". The Hollywood Reporter. 2011-11-17. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  28. ^ Bond, Paul (September 11, 2013). "Steve Burke: NBC's Ratings Woes Hurting Revenues". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 12, 2013. A third film is in the works, as is a Christmastime spinoff about the Minions. 
  29. ^ Kroll, Justin (October 8, 2013). "Universal, Illumination to reboot 'The Grinch'". Variety. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  30. ^ a b c McNary, Dave (October 14, 2015). "Three Untitled Illumination Movies Get Dates Through 2020". Variety. Retrieved October 15, 2015. 
  31. ^ Fleming, Michael (April 28, 2009). "Gervais’ ‘Flanimals’ heads to bigscreen". Variety. Retrieved August 14, 2010. 
  32. ^ Mike Fleming (October 20, 2010). "Illumination Entertainment And Universal Eye Japanese Manga 'Pluto' For New Pic". Deadline. Retrieved October 21, 2010. 
  33. ^ Fleming, Mike (August 16, 2011). "Universal, Illumination, And Escape Artists To Film Harlem Teen Gospel Story". Deadline. Retrieved August 17, 2011. 
  34. ^ a b Kit, Borys (October 6, 2011). "Johnny Depp to Become Dr. Seuss for Illumination and Universal (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 7, 2011. 
  35. ^ Fleming, Mike (March 15, 2012). "Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Cat In The Hat’ Get Another Life At Chris Meledandri’s Illumination". Deadline. Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  36. ^ Kroll, Justin (October 24, 2012). "Illumination, U acquire 'Lockwood' series". Variety. Retrieved October 25, 2012. 
  37. ^ Byung-yeul, Baek (May 19, 2015). "'Despicable Me' founder shares secret of success". The Korea Times. Retrieved May 24, 2015. 
  38. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (July 9, 2015). "‘Minions’ Maker Illumination Forges Pact With South Korean Animator Kyungmin Woo, Options His Short ‘Johnny Express’ For Feature". Deadline. Retrieved July 10, 2015. 
  39. ^ "Brad & Gary". Seattle International Film Festival. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  40. ^ "Brad & Gary". IMDb. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  41. ^ King, Susan (February 2, 2013). "40th Annie Award nominees and winners list". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  42. ^ Katz, Josh (January 9, 2012). "Hop Blu-ray". Blu-ray. Retrieved January 9, 2012. 
  43. ^ "From Universal Studios Home Entertainment: Dr. Seuss' The Lorax". PR Newswire. June 5, 2012. Retrieved June 5, 2012. 
  44. ^ "Despicable Me 2 Blu-ray". Retrieved September 11, 2013. 
  45. ^ "Minions Blu-ray". October 6, 2015. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 

External links[edit]