Chris Meledandri to Get Venice Film Fest Tribute

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Chris Meledandri

The founder of Illumination Entertainment will be feted on the Lido for his contribution to animated films.

Chris Meledandri is slated to receive a special tribute at the upcoming Venice International Film Festival in September, organizers announced Wednesday. The Academy Award-nominated founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment will be recognized for his contribution to the world of animated films.

Meledandri is responsible for the Despicable Me, Ice Age and animated Dr. Seuss franchises, which have collectively grossed almost $6 billion worldwide. With Illumination, he has an exclusive financing and distribution partnership with Universal Pictures.

The Venice tribute will kick off with the Italian premiere of Illumination’s latest picture, The Secret Life of Pets. The global box-office hit is set to open Oct. 6 in Italy.

Meledandri will participate in a public conversation with festival attendees, which will end with exclusive footage from Illumination’s upcoming movie Sing. A dapper koala (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) who has fallen on hard times must restore his once-grand theater in a world entirely inhabited by animals. Sing is set to bow Dec. 21 in the U.S. and also stars Scarlett Johansson, Leslie Jones and Reese Witherspoon.

“Chris Meledandri has revolutionized our way of understanding and making animated film with his more than excellent achievements, both in terms of quality and box office, thanks to careful and skillfully targeted investments,” Venice fest director Alberto Barbera said in a statement. “Under his leadership, Illumination Entertainment has grown into one of the most dynamic and innovative creative hubs in the world of animation in a matter of years. This tribute from the festival wishes to spotlight the artist’s extraordinary contribution, leading to worldwide hits such as Despicable Me and Minions, both of which changed our relationship with cartoons forever.”

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