Chris Meledandri — the CEO of Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind the pill-shaped Minions — will receive the Visual Effects Society’s lifetime achievement award during the 17th VES Awards on Feb. 5 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
“Chris Meledandri has greatly contributed to the advancement and ever-increasing success of mainstream animated entertainment over the last 20 years,” VES board chair Mike Chambers said in a statement on Friday. “He is an amazing creative force and powerhouse producer, whose unique vision has delivered some of the most popular movie franchises of all time. His leadership in the industry is paving the way for future generations of artists and producers and he has helped redefine the profile of animation and visual effects on a global scale. We are very proud to honor Chris with the VES lifetime achievement award.”
The laurel, now in its 14th year, honors a filmography that has “significantly contributed to the art and/or science of the visual effects industry.” Previous winners include Jon Favreau (2018), Ridley Scott (2016), Stan Lee (2012) and Steven Spielberg (2008).
Meledandri, who has steered Illumination through the release of films including Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets, Sing and The Grinch, will be honored for his “unique ability to bring animation into the lives of audiences worldwide and create unforgettable characters that have become part of the pop culture zeitgeist,” according to VES. The society also cites Meledandri’s leadership as Illumination has become a dominant creative force in the animation space since its founding in 2007.
Prior to Illumination, Meledandri was a producer behind titles including Ice Age, Robots and Cool Runnings, and the founding president of 20th Century Fox Animation.
Other recipients of VES marquee honors at the VES Awards include Jonathan Nolan, who will receive the VES visionary award, and Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.