Illumination Entertainment CEO and producer of the “Despicable Me” franchise Chris Meledandri brought the room to tears during Variety’s Press Play Home Entertainment and Digital Hall of Fame induction gala with a story illustrating how film can have a real impact.
Meledandri read aloud a letter he had received from the parent of a 5-year-old boy, Peter, who was severely ill with liver cancer. “Somehow from June through October 2014, the ‘Despicable Me’ movies always managed to make him smile even as his health deteriorated,” he read. “I’ve always made Halloween costumes for our children. That year, Peter asked to be a minion. He at least got to try on the goggles I had made, but passed away a few days prior to the finishing of the costume.”
The letter continued that Peter’s older sister decided she wanted to wear Peter’s costume for Halloween, and though it was painful, the parent completed the costume, which the sister wore to her school’s social.
“Turns out, the inner joy of the minions helped us heal and stay connected,” the letter finished.
“So a year later, in ‘Despicable Me 3,’ the minion Peter made his debut,” Meledandri said. “It is vital for us to never lose sight of the potential of our films to spread joy, humor, and hope, even when people are going through unimaginable hardships.”