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Illumination Entertainment (or simply Illumination) is an American film and animation studio founded by Chris Meledandri in 2007. It is owned by Meledandri and Universal Pictures, a division of NBCUniversal, which is itself a division of Comcast. Meledandri produces the movies while Universal finances and distributes all the films. The studio is best known for its Despicable Me franchise, and has also produced the films The Secret Life of Pets and Sing. The Minions, characters from the Despicable Me films, are the studio's official mascots.

Illumination has produced eight feature films, beginning with Despicable Me (2010) and its most recent being Despicable Me 3 (2017). The studio's highest-grossing films are Minions (2015), which has grossed $1.159 billion worldwide, Despicable Me 3 (2017), $1.033 billion, and Despicable Me 2 (2013), $970.8 million. All three are among the 50 highest-grossing films of all time, and six of the studio's films are among the 50 highest-grossing animated films of all time, with Minions being the second all-time highest.

HistoryEdit

Meledandri left his post as President of 20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios in early 2007, where he had supervised or executive produced films including Ice Age (2002), its sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), Robots (2005), 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 within its feature animation group (alongside Universal Animation Studios) would produce one to two films a year starting in 2010. Like Universal Animation, Illumination retains creative control and Universal exclusively distributes the films.

To maintain the separation of Illumination and Universal Animation despite their now common ownership and management, Universal Animation founder Michael Wildshill "drew a hard line" that each studio was solely responsible for its own projects and would not be allowed to borrow personnel from or lend tasks out to the other. Wildshill said that he and the staff "make sure the studios are quite distinct from each other. We don’t want them to merge; that would definitely be the wrong approach. Each should have its own personality." 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 August 22, 2016, NBCUniversal acquired competing studio DreamWorks Animation, appointing Meledandri to oversee both studios.

ProcessEdit

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.

ProjectsEdit

The studio's first film 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 $543 million worldwide.

Illumination's second film was the live action/CGI hybrid Hop (2011), starring Russell Brand and James Marsden. The film 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, 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 Despicable Me spin-off Minions was released on July 10, 2015 and grossed over $1 billion worldwide.

The Secret Life of Pets was released on July 8, 2016. Directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney, the film would earn $104 million in its opening weekend, $368 million stateside, and $875 million worldwide.

Sing, a comedy written and directed by Garth Jennings, was released on December 21, 2016. It was the first movie for the studio to have a Christmas release. The film would earn $56 million in its first 5 days, grossing $270 million stateside and $634 million worldwide. It also holds the record for the highest grossing film not to ever be at #1 in its run.

Despicable Me 3 was released on June 30, 2017, and became the 2nd film to earn $1 billion for the studio, and set a record for the highest theater count ever with 4,536 theaters in its 2nd week. Dr. Seuss' The Grinch, Illumination's second film based on a Dr. Seuss book, is scheduled for release on November 9, 2018, and is being directed by Peter Candeland and Yarrow Cheney from a screeplay by Michael LeSieur.

Other future projects are The Secret Life of Pets 2Minions 2, and Sing 2, and will be followed by four more untitled films.

Other films in development include a film adaptation based on the short Johnny Express, and Despicable Me 4.

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 OrlandoHollywood, and Osaka. The ride officially opened on July 2, 2012 in Orlando, Hollywood on April 12, 2014, and Osaka on April 21, 2017.

In November 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported Illumination was teaming up with Nintendo to make an animated Mario film. In January 2018, Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima stated that, if plans go smoothly, a Mario movie could happen by 2020. On January 31, 2018, Nintendo of America announced on Twitter that it is partnering with Illumination on a movie starring Mario, co-produced by Shigeru Miyamoto and Chris Meledandri.

Related companiesEdit

Illumination has a close relationship with its much older sister studio Universal Animation Studios, which is owned by the same company that owns Illumination. As a result, they often share common ownership and senior management with each other.

FilmographyEdit

Feature filmsEdit

Further information: List of Illumination films

Released filmsEdit

# Title Release date Budget Box office RT MC
1 Despicable Me July 9, 2010 $70 million $543.1 million 81% 72
2 Hop[S] April 1, 2011 $63 million $184.0 million 25% 41
3 Dr. Seuss' 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 $875.5 million 74% 61
7 Sing December 21, 2016 $632.2 million 73% 59
8 Despicable Me 3 June 30, 2017 $80 million $1.033 billion 59% 49
SCombines live-action with animation.

Upcoming filmsEdit

# Title Release date
9 Dr. Seuss' The Grinch November 9, 2018
10 The Secret Life of Pets 2 June 7, 2019
11 Minions 2 July 3, 2020
12 Sing 2 December 25, 2020
13 Untitled films July 2, 2021
14 July 1, 2022
15 December 21, 2022
16 June 30, 2023

Films in developmentEdit

Title
Johnny Express
Despicable Me 4
Untitled Mario remake film[R]
RNot produced, but released by Illumination under its label.

Direct-to-video filmsEdit

# Title Release date
1 Despicabopolis (co-production with Universal Animation Studios) March 20, 2018

Short filmsEdit

# Title Release date Release with Notes
1 Home Makeover December 14, 2010 Despicable Me Home video release
2 Orientation Day
3 Banana
4 Brad & Gary 2011 Theatrical release
5 Phil's Dance Party March 23, 2012 Hop Home video release
6 Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem July 2, 2012 Theme park ride
7 Wagon Ho! August 7, 2012 Dr. Seuss' The Lorax Home video release
8 Forces of Nature
9 Serenade
10 Puppy December 10, 2013 Despicable Me 2
11 Panic in the Mailroom
12 Training Wheels
13 Cro Minion December 8, 2015 Minions
14 Competition
15 Binky Nelson Unpacified
16 Mower Minions July 8, 2016 The Secret Life of Pets Theatrical release
17 Norman Television December 6, 2016 Home video release
18 Weenie
19 Gunter Babysits March 21, 2017 Sing
20 Love at First Sight
21 Eddie's Life Coach
22 The Secret Life of Kyle December 5, 2017 Despicable Me 3

FranchisesEdit

Title Release date
Despicable Me 2010–present
The Secret Life of Pets 2016–present
Sing

GalleryEdit

PostersEdit

LogosEdit

TriviaEdit

  • The Minions are Illumination's mascot.
  • Despicable Me is popular for using the theme song for the 1968 MGM movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and the opening theme for the original 1967 Columbia Pictures version of Casino Royale.
  • Illumination has not yet made a G-rated production, as every one of its feature films so far has been rated PG by the MPAA (as of the short film Mower Minions).
  • Starting with Despicable Me 3, the company is referred to as Illumination in their logo and marketing.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


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