×
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

  • Murder Mystery

    Netflix Reveals Record-Breaking Stats for Sandler-Aniston 'Murder Mystery' Flick

    “Murder Mystery,” the latest Adam Sandler film to debut on Netflix, broke viewing records on the streaming service, the company revealed Tuesday. The film, which is co-headlined by Jennifer Aniston, was seen by close to 30.9 million households in its first 3 days, according to a tweet sent out Tuesday afternoon. 🚨ADAM SANDLER AND JENNIFER [...]

  • Charles Caldas To Step Down as

    Charles Caldas To Step Down as Merlin CEO

    Charles Caldas, the only CEO that the independent-label collective Merlin has ever known, announced today that he will step down from his post at the end of 2019, after more than 12 years at the helm of the global rights organization. He will continue his current duties until then and work with the Merlin board to [...]

  • Vice Media Digital Makeover Triggers Traffic

    Vice Media Digital Makeover Triggers Traffic Slide

    Life on its own online isn’t easy for Vice Media. Ending the digital publisher’s controversial practice of rolling up web traffic for partner sites into an aggregated number resulted in the total domestic traffic falling nearly by half between March 2019 and the following month, according to Comscore. The numbers improved slightly for May, when [...]

  • Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Global indie-label collective Merlin reported record distributions in its 2019 membership report, paying $845 million to label and distributor members between April 2018 and March of this year. That figure, a 63% year-over-year increase, includes more than $130 million paid out this year from non-royalty income — and included in that figure is the estimated [...]

  • Sarah Iooss - Twitch

    Twitch Hires Sarah Iooss, Former Mic and Viacom Exec, as Head of North America Sales

    Twitch has tapped Sarah Iooss, most recently EVP of revenue at millennial-news startup Mic, to lead the advertising sales team in North America for the Amazon-owned live-streaming video platform focused on video gaming. Iooss will be based in New York, reporting to chief revenue officer Walker Jacobs, who joined Twitch last fall after serving as [...]

  • Calibra app

    Spotify: Facebook's Libra Cryptocurrency Will Help Subscription Services

    When Facebook officially announced its plans for a new cryptocurrency called Libra Tuesday, it also revealed that Spotify was part of a consortium of companies called the Libra Association that is backing the project. The music service hopes that digital money can help subscription services sign up new customers. “One challenge for Spotify and its [...]

  • And Then We Danced

    Swedish Outfit French Quarter Steps Into TV With Graphic Novel Adaptation

    Swedish production company French Quarter, the outfit behind Cannes Directors’ Fortnight entry “And Then We Danced,” is venturing into TV with a web series adapted from Henrik Bromander’s graphic novel “Kurs I självutplåning” (“Course in self-annihilation”). The comedy series has been commissioned by the Swedish broadcaster SVT, as first reported by Nordic Film & TV [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content