Illumination (formerly named Illumination Entertainment) is an American film
and animation studio
founded by Chris Meledandri
in 2007 and owned by Universal Pictures
a division of NBCUniversal
, which is itself a division of Comcast
. Meledandri produces the films, while Universal finances and distributes all the films.
The studio is responsible for the ''Despicable Me
'' and ''The Secret Life of Pets
'' franchises and the film adaptations of Dr. Seuss
’ books ''The Lorax
'' and ''How the Grinch Stole Christmas
''. The Minions
, characters from the ''Despicable Me'' series, are the studio's mascots.
Illumination has produced 10 feature films
, with its latest release being ''The Secret Life of Pets 2
'', with an average gross of $695.4 million per film. The studio's highest-grossing films are ''Minions
'', which has grossed $1.159 billion worldwide, ''Despicable Me 3
'', $1.034 billion and ''Despicable Me 2
'', $970.8 million. All three are among the 50 highest-grossing films
of all time, and six of their films are among the 50 highest-grossing animated films
Meledandri left as President of 20th Century Fox Animation
and Blue Sky Studios
in early 2007. While at those companies he supervised or executive-produced movies including ''Ice Age
'', ''Ice Age: The Meltdown
'', and ''Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!
'' After leaving, he founded Illumination Entertainment and a deal was announced positioning Illumination Entertainment as NBCUniversal
's family entertainment arm that would produce one to two films a year starting in 2010. As part of the deal, 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
'' and ''Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
'', and formed Illumination Mac Guff
Meledandri prefers to keep Illumination adhering to a low-cost model, recognizing that "strict cost controls and hit animated films are not mutually exclusive". In an industry where film expenses often exceed $100 million, Illumination's first two releases were completed with significantly lower budgets, considering ''Despicable Me'' $69 million budget and ''Hop
'' $63 million budget. 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.
Not unlike Pixar
, in its early days Illumination depended on a core group of directors and writers to create its films. The directors of ''Despicable Me'', Pierre Coffin
and Chris Renaud
, also directed or co-directed ''Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
'', ''Despicable Me 2
'', ''The Secret Life of Pets
'', and ''Despicable Me 3
''. Screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio
(who had written ''Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who
'' for Meledandri at Fox) wrote or co-wrote ''Despicable Me'', ''Hop'', ''Dr. Seuss' The Lorax'', ''Despicable Me 2'', ''The Secret Life of Pets'', and ''Despicable Me 3'', while screenwriter Brian Lynch
wrote or co-wrote ''Hop'', ''Minions'', and ''The Secret Life of Pets''.
On August 22, 2016, NBCUniversal acquired competing studio DreamWorks Animation
, appointing Meledandri to oversee both studios.
The studio's first film, ''Despicable Me
'', was released on July 9, 2010 and was commercially successful, earning $56 million on its opening weekend, and going on to ticket sales of $251 million domestically and $543 million worldwide. Illumination's second film was the live action/CGI hybrid ''Hop
'' (2011), which has a $37 million opening, and ended up with $108 million domestically and $183 million worldwide. An adaptation of ''Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
'', debuted on March 2, 2012, earning $70 million on its opening weekend, and with eventual totals of $214 million in the US market and $348 million worldwide. The studio's first sequel
, ''Despicable Me 2
'', opened in the United States on July 3, 2013, earning over $970 million worldwide, 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 of the ''Despicable Me'' franchise
, titled ''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 domestically, 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 No. 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. The second film from Illumination based on a Dr. Seuss book, ''Dr. Seuss' The Grinch
'', was released on November 9, 2018, and is directed by Scott Mosier
and Yarrow Cheney from an adaptation by Michael LeSieur and Tommy Swerdlow.
''The Secret Life of Pets 2
'', the sequel to 2016's ''The Secret Life of Pets'', was released on June 7, 2019.
On May 19, 2011, Illumination announced that it would be working with Universal Studios to create ''Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
'', a 3-D ride at Universal Parks & Resorts
, and Osaka
The ride officially opened on July 2, 2012 in Orlando, in Hollywood on April 12, 2014, and in Osaka on April 21, 2017.
Future projects include ''Sing 2
'' set for December 22, 2021 and ''Minions: The Rise of Gru
'' set for July 1, 2022.
After that, release dates have been set aside for three more films whose titles have not been announced: December 21, 2022 and June 30, 2023.
Other films the studio has in development include ''Despicable Me 4'' and an animated film based on the ''Mario
'' franchise as a collaboration with Nintendo
. In January 2018, then-Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima
stated that, if plans go smoothly, a ''Mario'' movie could happen by 2020.
On January 31, 2018, Nintendo announced during a fiscal meeting that they are partnering with Illumination on a movie starring Mario, which will be co-produced by Chris Meledandri and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto
On November 6, 2018, Illumination announced that the ''Mario'' film could be released by 2022.
Also, Illumination is working with frequent collaborator and musician Pharrell Williams
on an original animated film that will be "made from scratch."
Golden Globe Awards
Critics' Choice Awards
Producers Guild of America Award
Visual Effects Society
* Illumination Mac Guff
* DreamWorks Animation
* Universal Animation Studios
* List of DreamWorks Animation productions
* List of Universal Pictures theatrical animated feature films
* List of unproduced Universal Pictures animated projects
* List of animated feature films of the 2010s
* List of highest-grossing animated films of the 2010s
Illumination Mac Guff official website
Category:2007 establishments in California
Category:American animation studios
Category:Companies based in Santa Monica, California
Category:American companies established in 2007
Category:Mass media companies established in 2007
Category:Universal Pictures subsidiaries
Category:Film production companies of the United States