×
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

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • 1982 El Gouna Festival

    Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival Puts Arab Helmers at Center Stage

    The upbeat state of Arab cinema will be on the screen and in the balmy air at Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival (Sept. 19-27), which is steadily gaining traction in its stated ambition to become a key platform and solid driver for Middle-East producers. “This year was one the best for Arab cinema,” says Intishal [...]

  • Star Skipper Paramount Animation

    Meet Star Skipper, Paramount Animation's Magical New Trademark Logo Character

    Studio logos are powerful signals to audiences.  Multiple generations of moviegoers flipping through channels or scanning streaming titles have frozen at the sight of a desk lamp hopping across the screen, because it means a Pixar movie is about to play. Likewise, when a young boy lounging inside a crescent moon casts his fishing line into [...]

  • Sybil

    Cannes Competition Movie 'Sibyl' Finds North American Home With Music Box (EXCLUSIVE)

    Music Box Films has acquired the U.S. and Canadian rights to Justine Triet’s darkly comic drama “Sibyl,” which competed at Cannes and had its North American premiere at Toronto in the Special Presentation section. Represented in international markets by mk2, the film follows the ambiguous relationship between Sibyl, a jaded psychotherapist (Virginie Efira, “An Impossible [...]

  • Kent Jones Directs 'Diane'

    Kent Jones to Exit New York Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

    In a surprise move, New York Film Festival’s director and selection committee chair of seven years Kent Jones will step down following this year’s 57th edition, which runs Sept. 27-Oct. 13. The departure comes as Jones’ feature filmmaking career is taking off. Issues of potential conflicts of interest have arisen as his work has moved [...]

  • Ava-Mark-Split

    Ava DuVernay, Mark Ruffalo Selected for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Honors

    Ava DuVernay and Mark Ruffalo have been selected by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation for its fourth Annual Patron of the Artists Awards. The awards will be presented on Nov. 7 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The show benefits the nonprofit SAG-AFTRA Foundation and is not televised. Previous SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the [...]

  • Wes Anderson

    Fox Searchlight Buys Wes Anderson's 'The French Dispatch'

    Fox Searchlight Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” extending the indie studio’s long collaboration with the filmmaker. The company has released four of Anderson’s films, including his two most recent pictures, “Isle of Dogs” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” “The French Dispatch” is described as “a love letter to journalists” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content