×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Universal benefit in Mac Guff accord

French VFX & Animation

While many animation and vfx companies are facing financial hurdles, French exec Jacques Bled has secured his shingle Mac Guff a sweet deal. Company has been acquired by Universal to become part of Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment.

The Paris-based outfit splits into two companies: Illumination Mac Guff, now exclusively dedicated to animating Illumination/Universal features; and Mac Guff, which will continue creating vfx on live-action movies, toons and commercials.

At the helm of Illumination Mac Guff stand two toppers: Bled, a vfx veteran and 3D enthusiast who co-founded the company in 1986 and has produced a handful of toons (from “Kirikou” to “Dragon Hunters”); and producer Janet Healy, a soft-spoken L.A. native who’s spent the bulk of her long career working on DreamWorks and Disney movies.

The duo’s unusual cultural mix has proven highly effective on such pics as “Despicable Me,” a smash hit that cost just $69 million and earned $251 million in the U.S. and $543 million worldwide.

The Lorax,” based on the Dr. Seuss book, was an even bigger challenge than “Despicable Me” in many respects, per Healy and Bled. But it was made in 18 months and is about to be delivered on schedule. Production on “Despicable Me 2” has just kicked off.

Although the Universal buyout doesn’t alter the day-to-day organization of Mac Guff’s animation unit, it does bring extra resources and allows Healy and Bled to be more proactive.

Bled says the company has upped the ante on all the tools and pushed the creative envelope on “The Lorax.”

Healy concurs: “There are fur characters in so many scenes, so many musical numbers, a Truffula Forest, a big water sequence and multiple scenes with many characters in them. All of these elements are highly intensive to render.”

Mixing French and American work habits took some adjustment but was well worth the effort, confides Bled.

“In France we do things differently: The storyboard is locked so at the beginning our animators took it personally when we asked them to redo a shot. But now they understand it’s part of the process to make the film as good as it can be,” he explains.

“The production and artistic teams have gotten better and better because of the intellectual tools that Janet and Chris (Renaud, co-helmer of “Despicable Me” and “The Lorax”) brought from their previous experiences with U.S. studios.”

Illumination Mac Guff now schedules hours so it can have joint editorial, art direction and music sessions with Los Angeles.

Says Healy: “It’s really important for us to have a worldwide perspective to make sure that lots of points of views are reflected in our films.”

For the Gallic animation industry, losing Mac Guff to Universal isn’t such good news. Bled says the company recently completed its last indie, Michel Ocelot’s “Kirikou 3,” and won’t take on another third-party toon project.

But for French and European animators looking to work on U.S. blockbusters without relocating to the States, Illumination Mac Guff is a great alternative to L.A.-based studios.

As Healy points out, “A lot of people want to live in Paris, stay near their families, eat all that good food…and now they know there’s longterm employment on quality animation movies here at Illumination Mac Guff.”

FRENCH VFX & ANIMATION:
Mooning over Melies | Universal benefit in Mac Gruff accord | Forging forward

More Digital

  • Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his Night

    ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, DreamWorks Animation claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Ads placed for the fantasy film had an estimated media value [...]

  • ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the

    MyFrenchFilmFestival Prizes ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the Right Shape’

    Actress-director Noémie Lvovsky’s “Tomorrow And Thereafter,” a heartfelt homage to the director’s own mother, and Fabien Gorgeart’s “Diane Has the Right Shape,” about one woman’s surrogate motherhood, both won big at the 2019 UniFrance MyFrenchFilmFestival which skewed female in its winners and viewership, making particularly notable inroads into South East Asia and Latin America. Opening [...]

  • soundcloud-logo

    SoundCloud Launches Tool to Distribute Music to Other Streaming Services

    SoundCloud today announced a new distribution tool that enables artists to distribute their music to other streaming services. The feature, currently in open beta the service’s Pro and Pro Unlimited platforms, means that artists can upload their music to SoundCloud competitors including Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify and Instagram. “Creators using the SoundCloud Premier distribution feature keep [...]

  • Alison Meyer - Whistle

    Whistle Taps Refinery29's Alison Meyer as VP of Marketing

    Whistle has hired Alison Meyer, previously with female-focused Refinery29, to head up brand-marketing solutions for the male-centric digital media player. As VP of marketing at New York-based Whistle, Meyer will lead partnership marketing for the company’s slate of original programming and branded content. She reports to Whistle president and COO Michael Cohen. Meyer’s appointment comes on [...]

  • Snapchat - NHL Highlights

    Snapchat Expands NHL Pact to Add Hockey Highlights, Curated Stories

    Snapchat is adding more action from the ice under a new multiyear deal with the National Hockey League. The NHL, in association with Disney Streaming Services, is delivering a new weekly highlights show on Snapchat recapping the top 10 plays of the previous week and will produce Curated Our Stories on the platform for select games [...]

  • Hulu Adds Another Interactive Ad: This

    Hulu Adds Another Interactive Ad: This One Lets You Get Offers Via Email

    Hulu lets its subscribers choose the show they want to see. Now the video-streaming service is increasingly letting users choose to respond to certain commercials right away. A commercial from Sleep Number, the manufacturer of the bed with an adjustable mattress, that has run on Hulu for the past several weeks allows viewers to request [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content