Meledandri's Illumination draws in toon

Jack Black, whose last foray into animation was the hit “Kung Fu Panda,” is the centerpiece of an untitled animated film pitch that Illumination Entertainment, Chris Meledandri’s Universal-based family film unit, is acquiring preemptively.

The untitled pitch is centered in the world of cryptozoology, which is the search for legendary creatures whose existence has never actually been confirmed, like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot.

Pitch was made by scribe Jason Micallef, with Black in the room. Black will produce with partner Ben Cooley through their Electric Dynamite banner, along with Meledandri. Black is only aboard as producer and will not provide a voice in the film. It is Black’s first animation project as producer, but he and Cooley are producers on the Black starrer “Gulliver’s Travels” and the docu “Branson.” Black’s previous producing credits include “Nacho Libre” and “Tenacious D In the Pick of Destiny.”

He is separately reprising for the “Kung Fu Panda” sequel and lent his voice to “Shark Tale” and the first installment of “Ice Age.”

Micallef previously wrote “Butter,” a script that made the Black List, and has Jennifer Garner attached with Michael De Luca producing. Micallef,and Underground Films’ Josh McGuire, most recently rewrote “The King of Kong” for New Line.

Illumination’s first major animation release is “Despicable Me,” which Universal releases July 9. Steve Carell provides the lead voice, and Jason Segel, Danny McBride, Julie Andrews and Russell Brand also voice characters.

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