Chris Meledandri will receive this year’s CinemaCon Award of Excellence in Animation, Mitch Neuhauser, managing director of CinemaCon, announced today. CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, will be held April 24-27 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Meledandri will be presented with this special honor at the Big Screen Achievement Awards ceremony taking place on the evening of April 27 at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace and hosted by official presenting sponsor The Coca-Cola Company.
“Chris and his team at Illumination have brought audiences of all ages some of the most beloved animated characters to the big screen,” said Neuhauser. “From the record-breaking success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, to the ever-mischievous Minions, to the beloved animals of Sing and The Secret Life of Pets, his company continues to achieve astonishing box office success and we are thrilled to honor him with the CinemaCon Award of Excellence in Animation.”
Meledandri, founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment, is one of the industry’s leading producers of event-animated films, including Despicable Me—the most successful animated franchise in cinematic history—as well as Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch and The Secret Life of Pets and Sing films. Illumination’s iconic, beloved franchises—infused with memorable and distinct characters, global appeal, and cultural relevance—have grossed almost $9 billion worldwide.
Prior to Illumination, Meledandri was a senior executive at 20th Century Fox, where he created the Ice Age franchise and shepherded existing brands into the feature space including, The Simpsons Movie and the Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!.
Meledandri’s most recent film—Nintendo and Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie – opened to a staggering $377.5 million worldwide, the biggest animated global film opening weekend of all time, and setting new records as the biggest opening weekend in Illumination history, the biggest domestic, international and global opening of 2023 so far, the biggest Easter weekend opening ever, the biggest video-game adaptation opening ever and the highest grossing second weekend for any animated film in history.
With last year’s Minions: The Rise of Gru and The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Illumination is now responsible for the two biggest animated opening weekends of the pandemic era.
Based on the world of Nintendo’s Super Mario games, The Super Mario Bros. Movie boasts an impressive cast that includes Chris Pratt, Charlie Day, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Keegan Michael-Key, Fred Armisen, Kevin Michael Richardson, Sebastian Maniscalco, with a special voice appearance by Charles Martinet, the voice behind the beloved characters of Mario and Luigi in the Super Mario games for over 30 years.
This holiday season, Illumination’s Migration is set to fly into theatres on December 22. The film is a modern-day comedy following a family of ducks who convince their over-protective father to go on the vacation of a lifetime as they attempt to migrate from New England, through New York City, and ultimately down to Jamaica. Meledandri produced the film, with Oscar nominee Benjamin Renner in the director’s chair and an original screenplay by Emmy winner Mike White.