×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Illumination’s Chris Meledandri Melds Together Cinematic Art and Cutting-Edge Technology

At the heart of every project from Illumination, which counts the highest-grossing global animated film franchise in its “Despicable Me” series among its roster, are what Academy Award-nominated founder and CEO Chris Meledandri describes as “characters and stories that live on in our audience’s lives long after they leave the theater.”

To achieve that sort of lasting impression, Meledandri, who will be inducted into the Variety Home Entertainment & Digital Hall of Fame on Dec. 5, has brought together world-class creative forces in the United States and the company’s French studio, Illumination Mac Guff. “The creation of beloved animated movies starts with great talent, and I attribute our success to the extraordinary teams that [producing partner] Janet Healy, [Illumination Mac Guff CEO] Jacques Bled and I have assembled at Illumination and Illumination Mac Guff.”

“Despicable Me 3” — the fourth highest-grossing animated film of all time — “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Sing” have helped Illumination gross more than $5.7 billion worldwide.

“A key to our success is that Jacques and Janet and I have forged a process where there are virtually no walls between the technology and the storytelling parts of the studio,” Meledandri says. “The technology enables the storytelling, and yet our technical research and development is every bit as creative as the most artist-driven parts of our filmmaking process.”

The union of art and technology is also at the heart of Illumination’s content for a variety of platforms, from social media and mobile tech to theme parks, such as “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” in 3D at Universal’s Hollywood and Orlando locations. The company’s first mobile game, “Despicable Me: Minion Rush” has already been downloaded more than 800 million times.

“The simplicity of ubiquitous access to high-quality video, and other forms of media, across any device, anytime and anywhere, it’s having a tremendous impact on the in-home dynamics,” says Meledandri. “These advances, and always-on, always-connected devices are just now allowing us to provide enhanced experiences that will open up all kinds of engagement opportunities where we can create direct relationships with our audiences

More Film

  • Fig Tree review

    Palm Springs Reviews: 'Fig Tree'

    It’s a question integral to much of the current international immigration debate: When war breaks out, who gets to flee and who’s left with nowhere to run? As a child, writer-director Aalam-Warqe Davidian was among a majority of Ethiopian Jews who emigrated to Israel. In her loosely autobiographical feature debut, a teenager facing similar circumstances [...]

  • Jeff BridgesJeff Bridges, who stars in

    Film News Roundup: Jeff Bridges Wins American Society of Cinematographers Honor

    In today’s film news roundup, Jeff Bridges is honored by cinematographers, the “Arctic” filmmakers get a first-look deal and releases are set for “Vault,” the Seth Rogen-Charlize Theron comedy and “What Lies Ahead.” BRIDGES HONORED The American Society of Cinematographers has selected Jeff Bridges as the recipient of the organizations’ 2019 Board of Governors Award. [...]

  • Cate Blanchett's 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette'

    Cate Blanchett's 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette' Moved Back to August

    Annapurna Pictures has moved its Richard Linklater literary adaptation “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” starring Cate Blanchett back five months from March 22 to an Aug. 9 release. A rep for Annapurna explained that August has served well as a launching pad for release of female-skewing films such as “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Florence Foster Jenkins” and [...]

  • Kumail Nanjiani Issa Rae

    Kumail Nanjiani, Issa Rae to Star in 'Lovebirds' Romantic Comedy

    “The Big Sick” star Kumail Nanjiani and “Insecure” star Issa Rae will topline Paramount’s romantic comedy “The Lovebirds.” The project will reunite Nanjiani with “The Big Sick” helmer Michael Showalter, who’s on board to direct from a script by Aaron Abrams, Brendan Gall, and Martin Gero. The project goes into production at the end of [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized by the [...]

  • 'The Pledge' Review

    Film Review: 'Pledge'

    “Privilege comes with sacrifice” says one character to another in “Pledge” — exactly the kind of noble sentiment authority figures always voice to hush the protests of those about to be sacrificed. This third feature for director Daniel Robbins is no delicate flower of cinematic art, but a lean and mean shocker that tells its [...]

  • John Lithgow

    John Lithgow-Blythe Danner's 'Tomorrow Man' Bought Ahead of Sundance Premiere

    In one of the first deals for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, Bleecker Street has acquired North American rights to the John Lithgow-Blythe Danner romance “The Tomorrow Man.” The movie will hold its world premiere at the fest, which opens on Jan. 24 in Park City, Utah. The distributor is planning a May 17 release. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content