Mike Fleming

UNTITLED_PET_PROJECT_Image_(2)EXCLUSIVE: Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures have been reserving prime release date real estate for secret family film projects. Deadline has the details on the one that will be released on February 12, 2016. Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri has set Louis C.K., Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet and Ride Along’s Kevin Hart to voice the main characters in what is being called the Untitled Pets Movie. Meledandri is producing the 3D animated film with longtime collaborator Janet Healy. Chris Renaud, who helmed the first two Despicable Me films for Illumination, will direct this one, and the co-director is Yarrow Cheney, who helmed a short that will be part of The Minions DVD release. The script was written by Despicable Me scribes Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio.

louisericThis becomes the fifth animated film for Illumination and a return to an original property, and the Pets pic marks the first animated studio feature that Louis C.K, Stonestreet and Hart have taken part in. Here’s the logline: the action comedy is set in a Manhattan apartment building. After the two-legged residents head for work and school, their pets gather to start their day, which consists of hanging out, trading humiliating stories about their owners, and helping each other work up adorable looks that will lead to more snacks. The head hound is a quick-witted terrier rescue (Louis C.K.), whose position at the epicenter of his master’s universe is suddenly threatened when she comes home with Duke (Stonestreet), a sloppy mongrel with no polish. The two soon find themselves on the mean streets of New York, where they meet the adorable white bunny Snowball (Hart). It turns out that Snowball is the leader of an army of pets that were abandoned and are determined to get back at humanity and every owner-loving pet. The dogs must thwart this plot and make it back in time for dinner.

kevinchrismeledandriMeledandri’s Illumination, with Despicable Me 2 on course to become Universal Pictures’ all-time worldwide grossing film after its China opening, currently has five movies in prep or production. The Minions comes July 10, 2015, another original mystery project will be released on Christmas 2016, Despicable Me 3 comes in the summer 2017, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas lands for holidays 2017.

Louis C.K. is repped by 3 Arts and Sloane, Offer; Stonestreet by ICM Partners, Thruline Entertainment and Felker, Toczek; Hart by UTA, 3 Arts and Schreck, Rose.

For all of Deadline's headlines, follow us @Deadline on Twitter.