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PGA Honors Chris Meledandri with 2014 Visionary Award

The Producers Guild of America announce that Chris Meledandri will receive the 2014 Visionary Award to be presented January 19, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

 The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced that Chris Meledandri, Founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment, will receive the 2014 Visionary Award. The award will be presented to Meledandri at the 25th Anniversary Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Sunday, January 19, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

The Producers Guild Visionary Award recognizes a television, film or new media producer for his or her unique or uplifting contributions to our culture through inspiring storytelling or performance.

Meledandri is being recognized with the Visionary Award as one of the definitive producers of contemporary animation. He receives this award just as the latest blockbuster hit that he has produced, Universal and Illumination’s Despicable Me 2, becomes the 5th highest-grossing animated film of all time worldwide at the global box office. 

“I have spent my career working alongside brilliant, passionate filmmakers to tell the types of stories that move audiences, and to receive recognition for this from the peers whose work I deeply admire makes this award all that more meaningful,” said Meledandri.

Previous honorees include producer, entrepreneur and humanitarian Russell Simmons, for his dedication to philanthropy and work as a film and television producer;  producer Laura Ziskin, for her commitment to storytelling and her efforts organizing the 2008 and 2009 Stand Up To Cancer campaign and television specials; Jeff Skoll, for his work with Participant Media in creating films that inspire social action; and Joel Gallen, who produced the landmark post-9/11 telethon “America: A Tribute to Heroes.”

“Throughout his career, Chris Meledandri has well established his position as a true visionary,” said PGA Awards Co-Chairs Lori McCreary (Invictus, “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman”) and Michael De Luca (Captain Phillips, Moneyball, The Social Network). “He has risen to become a leader within the industry and paved a road for animation that will have a lasting influence. Furthermore, Chris’ skills as a storyteller are matched by his commitment as a philanthropist, and we are proud to recognize him with the 2014 Visionary Award.”

The Producers Guild 2014 Visionary Award is sponsored by Delta Air Lines.

Chris Meledandri is the founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment, which has an exclusive financing and distribution partnership with Universal Pictures. In July 2010, Illumination released its first film under this agreement, Despicable Me, which starred Steve Carell and earned more than $540 million worldwide. 

In April 2011, Illumination released Hop, which starred James Marsden and Russell Brand and became the No. 1 film in North America for two consecutive weeks. Illumination followed this up in March 2012, when it released its next fully animated feature film, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, which had the highest three-day opening for an animated film that year ($70.2 million) and also had the eighth-highest domestic opening for an animated film of all time. The Lorax continued the successful collaboration between Meledandri and Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s widow, Audrey Geisel. 

Universal and Illumination’s Despicable Me 2, which was released this year to critical acclaim, recently became the 5th highest-grossing animated film of all time worldwide, opening No. 1 in 54 territories across the globe and earning more than $900 million.

Meledandri is currently in production on Minions, an original animated film starring Oscar winner Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm that will be released on July 10, 2015, as well as an untitled project that will be released on February 12, 2016.

Meledandri was previously an executive at 20th Century Fox for 13 years. While there, he became founding president of 20th Century Fox Animation, which he headed for eight years, amassing more than $2 billion in global box office revenue.

During his tenure, he helped 20th Century Fox become a major player in the world of animated feature films and in 1998, he led 20th Century 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 Studios, now 20th Century Fox’s wholly owned CGI studio. While at the studio, Meledandri supervised and/or executive produced movies including Ice Age, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Robots, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Simpsons Movie and Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who!.

Before joining 20th Century Fox, Meledandri was president of Dawn Steel Pictures at Walt Disney Pictures, where he served as an executive producer of Cool Runnings.

Source: Producers Guild of America

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.