Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Here is a shocker. Al Pacino and Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment have parted company on Despicable Me 2. Pacino had long ago signed to provide the voice of the film’s villain, Eduardo, in the follow-up to the 2010 hit. The surprise here is timing: the film has a July 3 release date, and this occurred on the first weekend of summer film releases. Pacino had done a lot of the voice work, but ultimately his last-minute exit came down to creative difference. The studio and Chris Meledandri’s Illumination are in the process of landing someone to take over and I’m told there is time to get all this done and not imperil the film’s release date. Animation makes that much easier; no re-shoots.

Related: Benjamin Bratt Replaces Al Pacino On ‘Despicable Me 2′

The studio confirmed Pacino’s exit, and gave me this statement: “Over the production of Despicable Me 2, there were creative differences between us and Al Pacino, who had been cast as the voice of Eduardo in the film. We have mutually decided with Al to replace the voice of Eduardo with a new actor. Universal and Illumination thank Al for his many contributions to the process and look forward to a new actor bringing this memorable character to the screen upon its release this summer.” Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud are directing the film, with Steve Carell reprising his role as Gru. Also in the voice cast is Kristen Wiig, Ken Jeong, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, and Steve Coogan.