CHRIS MELEDANDRI is the founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment, which has an exclusive financing and distribution partnership with Universal Pictures. In July 2010, Illumination released its first film under this agreement, Despicable Me, which starred Steve Carell and earned more than $540 million worldwide.
In April 2011, Illumination released Hop, which starred Russell Brand and James Marsden and became the No. 1 film in North America for two consecutive weeks. Illumination followed this up in March 2012, when it released its next fully animated feature film, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, which had the highest three-day opening for an animated film that year ($70.2 million) and also had the eighth-highest domestic opening for an animated film of all time. The Lorax continued the successful collaboration between Meledandri and Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s widow, Audrey Geisel.
Universal and Illumination’s Despicable Me 2, which was released this year to critical acclaim, recently became the 5th highest-grossing animated film of all time worldwide, opening No. 1 in 67 territories across the globe and earning more than $885 million.
Meledandri is currently in production on Minions, an original animated film starring Oscar® winner Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm that will be released on July 10, 2015, as well as an untitled project that will be released on February 12, 2016.
Meledandri was previously an executive at 20th Century Fox for 13 years. While there, he became founding president of 20th Century Fox Animation, which he headed for eight years, amassing more than $2 billion in global box-office revenue.
During his tenure, he helped 20th Century Fox become a major player in the world of animated feature films and in 1998, he led 20th Century Fox’s acquisition of fledgling visual effects/commercial house Blue Sky Studios, which he built into a successful producer of animated features. He oversaw the creative and business operations of Blue Sky Studios, now 20th Century Fox’s wholly owned CGI studio. While at the studio, Meledandri supervised and/or executive produced movies including Ice Age, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Robots, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Simpsons Movie and Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!.
Before joining 20th Century Fox, Meledandri was president of Dawn Steel Pictures at Walt Disney Pictures, where he served as an executive producer of Cool Runnings.