May 15, 1959
New York City, U.S.
|Alma mater||Dartmouth College|
The Secret Life of Pets
(m. 2002; div. 2016)
Christopher Meledandri (//;[stress?] born May 15, 1959) is an American film producer, and founder and CEO of Illumination. He is best known as the producer of the Despicable Me franchise.
Meledandri was born in New York City. He is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He attended Dartmouth College and is a member of the board of trustees at The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. He has two sons, born c. 1990 and 1998. He was married to Leslie Benziger, his longtime relationship and the mother of his two sons, from 2002 until their divorce in 2016. They started dating in 1989.
In 1998, Meledandri led Fox's acquisition of fledgling visual effects/commercial house Blue Sky Studios, which he built into a successful producer of animated features. He oversaw the creative and business operations of Blue Sky, now Fox's wholly owned CGI studio. While at the studio, Meledandri supervised and/or executive produced films including Ice Age (2002), Robots (2005), Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), and Dr. Seuss Horton Hears a Who! (2008) He also produced two animated shorts, Gone Nutty (2002) and No Time for Nuts (2006), both were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
Meledandri left as President of 20th Century Fox Animation in early 2007 and founded Illumination, an all-audience film production company, co-owned by Universal Pictures, which fully finances and owns the films. In 2010, Illumination released its first film, Despicable Me, (which became successful and was followed by Despicable Me 2 (2013) and Despicable Me 3 (2017)), and in 2011, Hop. Illumination released a film version of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, which continued the successful collaboration between Meledandri and Theodor (Dr. Seuss) Geisel's widow, Audrey. He also produced the franchise spin-off prequel, Minions (2015).
On April 28, 2016, NBCUniversal announced its intent to acquire competing studio DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion. It was announced that Meledandri would oversee both Illumination and DreamWorks following the completion of the merger. However, it was later announced that Meledandri had declined to oversee DreamWorks, and will instead be a consultant at the studio. On November 6, 2018, it was announced that Meledandri will be helping Universal and DreamWorks to revive the Shrek franchise. Meledandri intends, however, to retain the original voice actors, as he pointed out they were perhaps the most memorable parts of the series.
In January 2018, Nintendo announced during a fiscal meeting that Illumination would be developing an animated Mario film and that Meledandri will co-produce the film with Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. On July 5, 2021, it was reported that Melendandri would join Nintendo's board of directors "as an independent and non-executive outside director", in order to help Nintendo through their filmmaking experience as the company moves towards developing films after Illumination's Super Mario Bros. film.
|1989||Brothers in Arms||Producer|
|1993||Fly by Night||Executive Producer|
|Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit||Co-Executive Producer|
|1994||Trial by Jury||Producer|
|2002||Ice Age||Executive Producer|
|Aunt Fanny's Tour of Booty|
|2006||Ice Age: The Meltdown|
|No Time for Nuts|
|2008||Horton Hears a Who!|
|2013||Despicable Me 2|
|2016||The Secret Life of Pets|
|2017||Despicable Me 3|
|2019||The Secret Life of Pets 2|
|2022||Minions: The Rise of Gru|
|Puss in Boots: The Last Wish||Story|
|Untitled Mario film||Producer|
A third film is in the works, as is a Christmastime spinoff about the Minions.