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Illumination was founded in early 2007 by Chris Meledandri, the executive producer of the first two Ice Age films, Robots and Horton Hears a Who!. The company was merged into Universal Pictures in 2008. Their first feature film was Despicable Me which was released in 2010 and distributed by Universal. It has since then been solely focused on animated features.
In 2011, Illumination's second film Hop was released in theatres on April 1, 2011, with a blend of live-action and CGI animation. In the summer of the same year, Mac Guff as the old animation company has a two splits from the visual effects the new company named "Illumination Mac Guff" is the all new animation studios. In 2012, The Lorax was released in theatres on March 2nd, 2012, based on the Dr. Seuss book.
In 2013, Despicable Me 2, a sequel to Despicable Me, was released on July 3rd, 2013. In 2015, Minions, a spin-off/prequel of Despicable Me, was released on July 10th, 2015. In 2016, The Secret Life of Pets was released on July 8th, 2016. In December 21th of the same year, another film Sing was released. A third film in the Despicable Me series, Despicable Me 3, will be released on June 30th, 2017. A sequel to The Secret Life of Pets will be released on July 13th, 2018. An adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, will be released on November 9th, 2018.
On April 28, 2016, NBCUniversal announced its intent to acquire competing studio DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion. Meledandri will oversee both studios following the completion of the merger. On August 22, 2016, the acquisition was completed. DreamWorks Animation and Illumination will remain separate companies.
Main article: List of Illumination films
- 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), due to stricter reasons.
- Starting with Despicable Me 3, the company is referred to as Illumination in their logo and marketing.