Illumination’s Chris Meledandri to oversee new story ideas for two popular DreamWorks Animation franchises.
Universal Pictures has asked Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri to develop new story ideas for a reboot of both the Shrek and Puss in Boots franchises, according to Variety. Not wanting to mess with success, Meledandri reportedly wants to bring back the main actors, such as Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas, for any new productions, saying, “When you look back on those vocal performances they’re awesome, and while you certainly could make a case for a complete reinvention, I find myself responding to my own nostalgic feelings of wanting to go back to those characterizations. The challenge for us has been to find something that really does feel like it’s not simply yet another film in a series of sequels.”
There had been plenty of industry speculation regarding what role Meledandri might play in Universal’s animation studio management ever since Comcast purchased DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion in 2016. Meledandri’s reported pass at the chance to run both studios, along with the January 2017 hiring of veteran Warner Bros. production executive Chris DeFaria as president of DreamWorks Feature Animation Group, seemed to ease some of those concerns. It’s hard to argue with Meledandri’s long track record of animated feature film development success, including his most recent string of Illumination hits such as the Despicable Me franchise. Though the new films will be produced at DreamWorks, his being tasked with overseeing a revival of two of the studio's most popular franchises begs the question of whether past speculation about Universal’s plan for how their two animation studios are run will rear its head once again.
The Grinch, Meledandri’s latest film, opens this Friday, November 9.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.