|Headquarters||Santa Monica, California, United States|
Natalie Fischer (COO)
Number of employees
300 (Illumination Mac Guff) (2012)
|Subsidiaries||Illumination Mac Guff|
Illumination Entertainment is an American animation film production company, founded by Chris Meledandri in 2007. It is currently owned by Universal Studios, a division of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The company is best known for the Despicable Me and The Secret Life of Pets franchises. The Minions, characters from the Despicable Me films, are the studio's official mascots.
The studio's highest grossing films are Minions, which has grossed $1.159 billion worldwide; Despicable Me 2, which has grossed $970.8 million worldwide; and The Secret Life of Pets, which grossed $867.3 million worldwide.
Meledandri left his post as President of 20th Century Fox Animation in early 2007 where he supervised or executive produced movies including Ice Age (2002), its sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), Robots (2005), Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007), and Horton Hears a Who! (2008). After leaving, he founded Illumination Entertainment. By 2008, a deal was announced positioning Illumination as NBCUniversal’s family entertainment arm that would produce one to two films a year starting in 2010. As an independent production company, Illumination retains creative control and Universal exclusively distributes the films. During the summer 2011, Illumination acquired the animation department of the French animation and visual effects studio Mac Guff, which animated Despicable Me (2010) and The Lorax (2012), and formed Illumination Mac Guff.
On April 28, 2016, NBCUniversal announced its intent to acquire competing studio DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion. Meledandri will oversee both studios following the completion of the merger. On August 22, 2016, the acquisition was completed. DreamWorks Animation and Illumination Entertainment will remain separate companies.
Meledandri is determined to keep his company adhering to a low-cost model, recognizing that “strict cost controls and hit animated films are not mutually exclusive.” In an industry where movie expenses often exceed $100 million, Illumination’s first two releases were completed with significantly lower budgets, considering Despicable Me’s $69 million budget and the $63 million budget of Hop. One way the company sustains a lean financial model is by employing cost-conscious animation techniques that lower the expenses and render times of its computer graphics.
The studio's first film, 3D CGI feature, Despicable Me, starring Steve Carell was released on July 9, 2010, and was a smash hit, earning $56 million on its opening weekend, and going on to earn $251 million domestically and $543 million worldwide. Illumination's second film was the live action/CGI hybrid Hop (2011), starring Russell Brand and James Marsden. The talking-animal flick opened to a much bigger than expected $37 million opening, and ended up with $108 million domestically and $183 million worldwide. In 2012, an adaptation of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, debuted on March 2 earning $70 million on its opening weekend, and eventually found its way to $214 million stateside and $348 million worldwide. The studio's first sequel, Despicable Me 2, opened in the United States on July 3, 2013, earning worldwide over $964 million, becoming the second highest-grossing 2013 animated film and breaking a record as the most profitable Universal Studios film in its 100-year history. The spin-off to Despicable Me, titled Minions, was released on July 10, 2015. It has grossed over $1 billion worldwide. It will be followed by two original animated stories.
The Secret Life of Pets was released on July 8, 2016. Directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney, it features Louis C.K. as a Jack Russell Terrier named Max, Eric Stonestreet as a mongrel, Duke, and Kevin Hart as a bunny, Snowball. Taking place in a Manhattan apartment building, Max's life as a favorite pet is turned upside down, when his owner, Katie, brings home a sloppy mongrel, Duke. They have to put their quarrels behind, when they find out that an adorable white bunny named Snowball is building an army of abandoned pets determined to take revenge on all happy-owned pets and their owners. Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Lake Bell, Ellie Kemper and Albert Brooks also joins the cast. Kemper as Max and Duke's owner Katie, Moynihan as a small but tough pug named Mel, Bell as a sarcastic tabby cat, Chloe, and Brooks as a red-tailed hawk, Tiberius. The second film, Sing, a comedy about "courage, competition and carrying a tune," written and directed by Garth Jennings, will be released on December 21, 2016. Despicable Me 3 is scheduled to be released on June 30, 2017, The Secret Life of Pets 2 on July 13, 2018, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas on November 9, 2018, directed by Pete Candeland and Yarrow Cheney from an adaptation by Michael LeSieur.
Other films in development include the animated feature adaptation of Ricky Gervais' Flanimals books, a CGI adaptation of the Uglydoll toy franchise, which creators David Horvath and Sun-Min-Kim will executive produce.
In May 2011, Illumination announced that it would be working with Universal Studios to create, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, a 3-D ride at Universal Studios in Orlando and Hollywood. The ride officially opened on July 2, 2012, in Orlando and in Hollywood on April 12, 2014.
|1||Despicable Me||July 9, 2010||$69 million||$543.1 million||81%||72|
|2||Hop||April 1, 2011||$63 million||$184 million||25%||41|
|3||The Lorax||March 2, 2012||$70 million||$348.8 million||53%||46|
|4||Despicable Me 2||July 3, 2013||$76 million||$970.8 million||73%||62|
|5||Minions||July 10, 2015||$74 million||$1.159 billion||56%||56|
|6||The Secret Life of Pets||July 8, 2016||$75 million||$874.5 million||75%||61|
|7||Sing||December 21, 2016||$75 million||N/A||73%||67|
|Despicable Me 3||June 30, 2017|
|The Secret Life of Pets 2||July 13, 2018|
|How the Grinch Stole Christmas||November 9, 2018|
|Untitled film||July 3, 2019|
|Untitled film||July 10, 2020|
Films in development
|The Cat in the Hat|
|Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase|
|1||Home Makeover, Orientation Day and Banana||December 14, 2010|
|2||Brad & Gary||2011|
|3||Phil's Dance Party||March 23, 2012|
|4||Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem||July 2, 2012|
|5||Serenade, Wagon-Ho and Forces of Nature||August 7, 2012|
|6|| Puppy, Panic in the Mailroom and|
|December 10, 2013|
|7||Cro Minion, Competition and Binky Nelson Unpacified||December 8, 2015|
|8||Mower Minions||July 8, 2016|
|9||Norman Television and Weenie||December 6, 2016|
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- Fleming, Mike (November 14, 2011). "Universal Pictures Buys Paris Animation Unit For Chris Meledandri's Illumination". Deadline. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- "ILLUMINATION MAC GUFF (PARIS 15) Chiffre d'affaires, résultat, bilans sur SOCIETE.COM - 533478434". www.societe.com. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
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- "Despicable Me 2 (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
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- Fleming, Mike (February 11, 2013). "Sandra Bullock To Voice Super-Villain In 'Minions' Spinoff For Illumination/Universal". Deadline. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
- Debruge, Peter (July 17, 2013). "Illumination Chief Chris Meledandri Lines Up Originals for Universal". Variety. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
After the Minion movie, the next two movies will return to telling completely original stories.
- Shaw, Lucas (February 12, 2013). "Universal Dates Mystery Illumination Movie for 2015". The Wrap. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
- Sneider, Jeff (January 24, 2014). "Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet to Voice Pets in Animated Movie From 'Despicable Me' Team". The Wrap. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
- Fleming Jr, Mike (January 24, 2014). "Chris Meledandri's Illumination Sets Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet And Kevin Hart For 3D Animated 'Pets' Pic At Universal". Deadline. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
- Sneider, Jeff. "Albert Brooks in Negotiations for Illuminations 'Pets' Project; 4 More Join Voice Cast (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
- "'Despicable Me 3′ Set For June 2017 Release; 'Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas' Arrives Five Months Later". Deadline. January 15, 2014. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
- Fleming, Mike (May 26, 2011). "Chris Meledandri's Illumination To Turn Uglydoll Into Animated Film". Deadline.com. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
- Vary, Adam B. (May 19, 2011). "Universal Parks announces new 'Despicable Me' ride, and a major face-lift for 'Spider-Man'". EW.com. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
- "Illumination Entertainment Moviesat the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
- "Illumination Entertainment's Profile". Metacritic. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- "Universal Dates 'Despicable Me 3,' New 'Grinch Who Stole Christmas'". The Hollywood Reporter. November 17, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
- Bond, Paul (September 11, 2013). "Steve Burke: NBC's Ratings Woes Hurting Revenues". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
A third film is in the works, as is a Christmastime spinoff about the Minions.
- McNary, Dave (October 14, 2015). "Three Untitled Illumination Movies Get Dates Through 2020". Variety. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
- Perry, Spencer (August 2, 2016). "The Secret Life of Pets 2 Officially Set for 2018!". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
- Kroll, Justin (October 8, 2013). "Universal, Illumination to reboot 'The Grinch'". Variety. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- Robinson, Will (June 7, 2016). "Benedict Cumberbatch's How The Grinch Stole Christmas delayed". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- Fleming, Michael (April 28, 2009). "Gervais' 'Flanimals' heads to bigscreen". Variety. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
- Fleming, Mike (March 15, 2012). "Dr. Seuss' 'The Cat In The Hat' Get Another Life At Chris Meledandri's Illumination". Deadline. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
- Kroll, Justin (October 24, 2012). "Illumination, U acquire 'Lockwood' series". Variety. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
- Byung-yeul, Baek (May 19, 2015). "'Despicable Me' founder shares secret of success". The Korea Times. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
- Fleming Jr., Mike (July 9, 2015). "'Minions' Maker Illumination Forges Pact With South Korean Animator Kyungmin Woo, Options His Short 'Johnny Express' For Feature". Deadline. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
- "Brad & Gary". Seattle International Film Festival. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
- "Brad & Gary". IMDb. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
- King, Susan (February 2, 2013). "40th Annie Award nominees and winners list". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
- Katz, Josh (January 9, 2012). "Hop Blu-ray". Blu-ray. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- Universal Studios Home Entertainment (June 5, 2012). "From Universal Studios Home Entertainment: Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
- "Despicable Me 2 Blu-ray". MovieMail.com. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
- "Minions Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. October 6, 2015. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
- "Minions short film". SlashFilm.com. April 14, 2016. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
- Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (October 4, 2016). "From Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures: The Secret Life of Pets" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
- Official website
- Illumination Entertainment at the Internet Movie Database
- Illumination Entertainment at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Official YouTube channel