Illumination entertainment new logo 2017

Illumination's original logo

Illumination, originally named Illumination Entertainment, is an American film and animation studio, founded by Chris Meledandri in 2007. It is owned by Meledandri and Universal Studios, a division of NBCUniversal, which is itself a division of Comcast. Meledandri produces the movies while Universal finances and distributes all the films. The studio is best known for the Despicable Me franchise, and has also produced the films The Secret Life of Pets and Sing. The Minions, characters from the Despicable Me films, are the studio's official mascots.

Illumination's highest-grossing films are Minions (2015), which has grossed $1.159 billion worldwide, Despicable Me 3 (2017), $1.033 billion, and Despicable Me 2 (2013), $970.8 million. All three are among the 50 highest-grossing films of all time, and six of the films are among the 50 highest-grossing animated films, with Minions being the second all-time highest.


Meledandri left his post 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 (2002), its sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), Robots (2005), and Horton Hears a Who! (2008). After leaving, he founded Illumination Entertainment. By 2008, a deal was announced positioning Illumination as NBCUniversal’s family entertainment arm that would produce one to two films a year starting in 2010. As an independent production company, 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 (2010) and The Lorax (2012), and formed Illumination Mac Guff.

In 2016, NBCUniversal acquired competing studio DreamWorks Animation, appointing Meledandri to oversee both studios.


Meledandri is determined to keep his company adhering to a low-cost model, recognizing that "strict cost controls and hit animated films are not mutually exclusive". In an industry where movie expenses often exceed $100 million, Illumination's first two releases were completed with significantly lower budgets, considering Despicable Me's $69 million budget and the $63 million budget of Hop. 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.


The studio's first film, Despicable Me, was released on July 9, 2010, and was a smash hit, earning $56 million on its opening weekend, and going on to earn $251 million domestically and $543 million worldwide. Illumination's second film was the live action/CGI hybrid Hop (2011), which opened to a much bigger than expected $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 eventually found its way to $214 million stateside 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 to Despicable Me, titled Minions, was released on July 10, 2015, and has 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 stateside, 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 #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, The Grinch, is scheduled for release on November 9, 2018, and is directed by Peter Candeland and Yarrow Cheney from an adaptation by Michael LeSieur. Other future projects are The Secret Life of Pets 2, Minions 2: The Rise of Gru, Sing 2, Covi & Zizt The Movie and Despicable Me 4. It will be followed by three more untitled films; the release dates are: July 22, 2024; July 21, 2025; and July 20, 2026.

Other films in development include feature adaptations of books such as Ricky Gervais' Flanimals, Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat and Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase; a film adaptation based on the short Johnny Express, and Super Mario Movie.

In 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 Studios in Orlando, Hollywood, and Osaka. The ride officially opened on July 2, 2012 in Orlando, Hollywood on April 12, 2014, and Osaka on April 21, 2017.

On November 14, 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that Illumination is teaming up with Nintendo to make an animated Mario film. In January 2018, Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima stated that, if plans go smoothly, a Mario movie could happen by 2020. On January 31, 2018, Nintendo of America announced on Twitter that they are partnering with Illumination on a movie starring Mario, it will be co-produced by Shigeru Miyamoto and Chris Meledandri.


Feature films

Released films

# Title Release date Distributor/Co-production with Animation service(s) Budget Gross Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1 Despicable Me July 9, 2010 Universal Pictures Mac Guff $69 million $543 million 81% 72
2 Hop April 1, 2011 Universal Pictures
Relativity Media
Rhythm and Hues $63 million $184 million 25% 41
3 Dr. Seuss' The Lorax March 2, 2012 Universal Pictures Illumination Mac Guff $70 million $348 million 54% 46
4 Despicable Me 2 July 3, 2013 $76 million $970 million 74% 62
5 Minions July 10, 2015 $74 million $1.159 billion 56% 56
6 The Secret Life of Pets July 8, 2016 $75 million $875 million 73% 61
7 Sing December 21, 2016 $634 million 72% 59
8 Despicable Me 3 June 30, 2017 $80 million $1.034 billion 59% 49
9 Dr. Seuss' The Grinch November 9, 2018 $75 million $511 million 58% 51
10 The Secret Life of Pets 2 June 7, 2019 $80 million $170 million 55% 55

Upcoming films

# Title Release date Distributor/Co-production with Animation Service(s)
11 Minions 2: The Rise of Gru July 2, 2021 Universal Pictures Illumination Mac Guff
12 Sing 2 December 22, 2021 Universal Pictures Illumination Mac Guff
14 Despicable Me 4 to be announced Universal Pictures Illumination Mac Guff

Films in development

Untitled Pharrell Williams film
Super Mario Movie

Short films

# Title Release date Co-production with Animation service(s) Release with Notes
1 Home Makeover December 14, 2010 N/A Mac Guff Despicable Me Home video release
2 Orientation Day
3 Banana
4 Brad & Gary April 1, 2011 Hop Theatrical release
5 Phil's Dance Party March 23, 2012 Rhythm & Hues Studios Home video release
6 Wagon Ho! August 7, 2012 Illumination Mac Guff Dr. Seuss' The Lorax Home video release
7 Forces of Nature
8 Serenade
9 Puppy December 10, 2013 Despicable Me 2
10 Panic in the Mailroom
11 Training Wheels
12 Cro Minion December 8, 2015 Minions
13 Competition
14 Binky Nelson Unpacified
15 Mower Minions July 8, 2016 The Secret Life of Pets Theatrical release
16 Norman Television December 6, 2016 Home video release
17 Weenie
18 Gunter Babysits March 21, 2017 Sing
19 Love at First Sight
20 Eddie's Life Coach June 30, 2017 Despicable Me 3 Theatrical release
21 The Secret Life of Kyle December 5, 2017 Home video release
22 Yellow is the New Black November 9, 2018 N/A Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Theatrical release
23 The Dog Days of Winter November 23, 2018 N/A Trolls Holiday Home video release
24 Santa's Little Helpers February 5, 2019 N/A Dr. Seuss' The Grinch
25 Minion Scouts June 7, 2019 N/A The Secret Life of Pets 2 Theatrical release
26 Super Gidget August 27, 2019 N/A Home video release

Miscellaneous work

# Title Release date Notes
1 Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem July 2, 2012 Theme park ride
2 The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! 2020 Theme park ride

Franchise films

Title Release date
Despicable Me 2010-2017
The Secret Life of Pets 2016-2019
Sing 2016-2021
Minions 2015-2021

Video Games

Title Year Platform[s] Publisher Developer
Despicable Me: The Game 2010 Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable D3 Publisher Monkey Bar Games
Minion Rush 2013 iOS, Google Play Gameloft


  • The Minions are Illumination's mascot.
  • Despicable Me is popular for using the theme song for the 1968 MGM movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and the opening theme for the original 1967 Columbia Pictures version of Casino Royale.
  • This company has not yet made a G-rated production, as every one of its feature-length films so far has been rated PG by the MPAA (as of the short film Mower Minions, Yellow is the New Black and Minion Scouts), due to stricter reasons.

v - e - d
Illumination entertainment new logo 2017
Theatrical films
Despicable Me (2010) • Hop (2011) • Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (2012) • Despicable Me 2 (2013) • Minions (2015) • The Secret Life of Pets (2016) • Sing (2016) • Despicable Me 3 (2017) • Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018) • The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)
Upcoming films
Minions: The Rise of Gru (2021) • Sing 2 (2021)
Short films
Home Makeover (2010) • Orientation Day (2010) • Banana (2010) • Brad & Gary (2011) • Phil's Dance Party (2012) • Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem (2012) • Wagon Ho! (2012) • Forces of Nature (2012) • Serenade (2012) • Puppy (2013) • Panic in the Mailroom (2013) • Training Wheels (2013) • Cro Minion (2015) • Competition (2015) • Binky Nelson Unpacified (2015) • Mower Minions (2016) • Norman Television (2016) • Weenie (2016) • Gunter Babysits (2017) • Love at First Sight (2017) • Eddie's Life Coach (2017) • The Secret Life of Kyle (2017)
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.