Illumination CEO and Animation Super-Producer Chris Meledandri Signs With CAA (EXCLUSIVE)

The Minions are about the get the white glove treatment, as Variety has learned that CAA has signed Illumination CEO and prolific animation producer Chris Meledandri as a client.

Meledandri, who founded the company and is responsible for two of the four highest-grossing animated franchises of all time (“Despicable Me,” “Ice Age”), will be represented by a team including the agency’s co-chairman Bryan Lourd.

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Illumination has an exclusive financing and distribution partnership with Universal Pictures, most recently delivering this year’s $1.3 billion baby “Super Mario Bros.” starring Chris Pratt and Anya-Taylor Joy. The venture’s most successful project, “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” grossed $940 million worldwide. The Minions films feature the voice of Steve Carell as the hapless villain Gru, and they have spawned six movies including spinoffs. The unit has amassed over $9 billion in global ticket sales and has drawn stars like Sandra Bullock and Kristen Wiig. Universal has an ownership stake in the Illumination brand.

There are plenty of superlatives for Meledandri, who according to is the 8th highest-grossing film producer of all time on a list that includes Marvel’s Kevin Feige, Kathleen Kennedy, Jerry Bruckheimer, David Heyman, Neal Moritz, Frank Marshall and Charles Roven.

As CEO of Illumination, Meledandri oversees filmmaking, content for marketing campaigns, mobile platforms, consumer goods, social media and theme parks (represented in over 20 top attractions at Universal’s parks).

The label’s next film, “Migration,” hits theaters in December. Written by “White Lotus” creator Mike White, the film stars Kumail Nanjani and Elizabeth Banks as birds making their first migratory trek and is directed by Oscar nominee Benjamin Renner.

Prior to Illumination, Meledandri was a senior executive at 20th Century Fox, becoming the defunct company’s first ever animation president. There he launched original material with the “Ice Age” franchise and worked on existing IP like “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!”

Meledandri is recipient of the Producers Guild of America’s Visionary Award, the CinemaCon Award of Excellence in Animation, Animation Magazine’s Hall of Fame Vanguard Award, The Visual Effects Society’s (VES) Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Annecy International Film Festival’s “Golden Ticket” lifetime accreditation award. He serves on the board of Nintendo as an outside director.

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