EXCLUSIVE: Eddie Egan, who in May 2011 moved from his post as domestic marketing president to take a senior post at Chris Meledandri’s Universal-based Illumination Entertainment, is leaving the studio where he has worked for nearly the past two decades. I’m told it was a mutual decision to move on. Egan made the move after overseeing the marketing of such Universal hits as Fast Five and Bridesmaids; after moving over, the Illumination films he worked on included Despicable Me 2, which is the bridesmaid behind Jurassic Park in the title of the studio’s biggest-grossing film ever with a worldwide tally of more than $916 million. Egan also worked closely on such Illumination product as Despicable Me and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. Ron Meyer just sent out an internal note confirming the exit. While it usually takes awhile to get the full story of what happened when any exec departs, you don’t usually get this kind of send off if you aren’t well liked and respected. Here’s Meyer’s note:
After 19 years together, I am saddened to share that Eddie Egan is leaving Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. Eddie has been an instrumental part of our success for almost two decades and he is one of the most uniformly respected and admired executives in our company. His passion and dedication have played a critical role in building Universal’s marketing organization, which is one of the best in the business. He’s also been a huge leader in the effort to grow and expand our family entertainment brand, Illumination Entertainment.
Eddie’s credits with Universal are almost too lengthy to list, but one of his biggest and most recent contributions has been in establishing Despicable Me as a global tent pole franchise with Despicable Me 2 currently boasting worldwide grosses of more than $916 million. He has helped make Illumination Entertainment an animation powerhouse with the success of Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2 and the smash hit, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.
Below is a note from Chris Meledandri about Eddie and another from Eddie to all of you: READ MORE »
Illumination Entertainment’s and Universal Pictures’ megahit toon sequel has grossed $498.4M internationally and will cross $500M at the overseas box office today. Despicable Me 2 is still playing at 3,000 dates in 41 territories right now and becomes the … Read More »
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s Minions in 3D will be released on July 10, 2015. It originally was slated for release on December 19, 2014. In addition, the release date for Illumination’s Untitled Project in 3D … Read More »
SUNDAY UPDATE: Illumination Entertainment‘s and Universal‘s 3D sequel Despicable Me 2 opened this weekend as one of the top 4 films internationally for the weekend alongside Man Of Steel, World War Z and Monsters University. All its rivals are playing in 40+ territories against DM2‘s seven markets. Yet the new toon opened #1 in five of its 6 new territories this weekend for a cumulative total of $50M through Sunday from the UK-Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, French-speaking Switzerland, and Sweden as well as Australia which debuted last weekend. As a comparison in the same seven territories, DM2 is performing well ahead of the original Despicable Me as well as DreamWorks sequels Kung Fu Panda 2 and Madagascar 2 and 3. Gru and his manic minions open in North America in limited release Tuesday night and go wide on Wednesday before the Fourth Of July holiday. Expectations are for new records in the 38 territories with the U.S./Canada opening next weekend. Here’s a territory by territory breakdown: Read More »
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2 is having its Los Angeles premiere today and doesn’t arrive in North American theaters until July 3. But the 3D toon opened this weekend in Australia to … Read More »
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.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Mad Men star Jon Hamm has signed on to provide the lead voice (alongside Sandra Bullock) in Minions, the Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment spinoff of the Despicable Me franchise. Bullock is set to voice Scarlet Overkill, a stylish bad-ass super-villain who is (what else?) bent on world domination. Hamm will voice her husband, the inventor Herb Overkill. The 3D CG animated comedy has been set for release December 19, 2014.
At the same time, veteran animated feature film executive Tito Ortiz has returned to Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment in the position of VP Development. Ortiz was one of the original employees at Illumination when it opened its doors in 2007, serving as Director of Development until 2011, when he left the company to pursue opportunities in the music industry. Even during his hiatus, Ortiz stayed close to the company by assisting in development across multiple properties. In his new role, Ortiz will be involved in the development of new feature film projects, and has already started in that mission with the recently announced animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, which will be directed by Pete Candeland. Read More »
Universal and Illumination Entertainment‘s Despicable Me 2 begins its international release on June 20th in 2D and 3D theaters and in select IMAX theaters. Chris Meledandri’s sequel features a return of the Minions, plus … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Playing against her America’s Sweetheart status, Sandra Bullock has been set to provide the lead villain voice in Minions, the Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment spinoff of the Despicable Me franchise. Bullock will voice Scarlet Overkill, a stylish bad-ass super-villain who is (what else?) bent on world domination. The 3D CG animated comedy has been set for release December 19, 2014.
The adorable yellow henchmen, who got their start in 2010′s Despicable Me, will be back this summer in the sequel. This spinoff establishes that Minions have existed since the beginning of time, in service of history’s most ambitiously evil villains. Through their lovable ineptitude, Minions have managed to thwart and ultimately destroy all of those bad guys. This story picks up in the 1960s, before they hench-ed for Gru. With no more super-villains to serve, the Minions fall into a collective depression and three of them set out to seek a new evil master. They wind up at a villain convention, where they compete for the right to be henchmen for Scarlet Overkill, whose Audrey Hepburn-like high style appearance belies her world domination ambition and her aspirations to become the world’s first female super-villain. Read More »
The Minions will next be seen in Despicable Me 2, which opens July 3, 2013. Today Universal Pictures scheduled Illumination Entertainment‘s Untitled Minions Project In 3D for Friday, December 19, 2014. The spinoff features the Minions … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Illumination Entertainment CEO Chris Meledandri has named Natalie Fischer to be the company’s first Chief Operating Officer. The move was made as the company’s creative output continues to grow from one film every two years to … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After coming right out of the gate with the animated hit Despicable Me and turning it into a sequel and a just-opened 3D theme park ride at Universal Studios Orlando, Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment has set an untitled feature spinoff based on The Minions as its fifth feature film with Universal. The adorable yellow-colored critters that began as henchmen for Groo in Despicable Me are now leading men (?) for a film Universal will release in 2014.
The film is an original story that will introduce new characters and reprise others that originated in Despicable Me, but the focus is on the antics of the yellow fellows as they interact with human characters. The script is already written by Brian Lynch, and Pierre Coffin will direct and Kyle Balda will co-direct. Coffin co-directed Despicable Me and is helming the sequel with Chris Renaud, and the two of them also do the voices for The Minions. Balda co-directed Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax with Renaud for Illumination. Read More »
BREAKING: Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures have set John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky to write the script Woody Woodpecker, the venerable and precociously noisy bird that first appeared in 1940 and will be resurrected in an animated feature…. Read More »
Universal has released a new trailer for Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, the third film from Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment. The film opens March 2, 2012.
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment have posted the first teaser trailer for Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, the third film by Chris Meledandri’s Universal-based family film division. Meledandri cultivated a relationship with Audrey Geisel, the widow of Theodor Geisel, when he ran Fox Animation and they turned Horton Hears a Who … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Illuminaton Entertainment have acquired the rights package to make a film based on the 60 Minutes segment Gospel for Teens. Illumination Entertainment’s Chris Meledandri has made the project his company’s first live action family film deal, and he will produce with Escape Artists’ Todd Black. The script will be written by Stephen Belber, who is currently adapting the book Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun, as a potential starring vehicle for Jamie Foxx. Belber most recently sold The Long Run to Sony and Overbrook Entertainment, and he wrote and directed the Jennifer Aniston-Steve Zahn-starrer Management. The rights package was brokered by ICM. Read More »