Made in France


As Universal and Chris Meledandri's Illumination Entertainment wrap production on their first offspring, the 3D CGI-animated title "Despicable Me," the studio and animation house plan to raise their next progeny in France thanks to new tax incentives in the country.

"Despicable Me" stars Steve Carell voicing title character and villain Gru, whose evil plot to steal the moon is thwarted by three orphan girls. The all-star cast also features the voices of Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, Russell Brand and Julie Andrews. Fully financed by Universal, "Despicable Me" employed the animation savoir-faire of Paris-based FX house Mac Guff.

"We've been met with the most kind, gracious and collaborative spirit. The French have been, in our dealings, fantastic partners," Meledandri says of Illumination's experience in the country, specifically with Mac Guff, with whom the studio plans to partner for upcoming Paris-based animation projects, including an adaptation of Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax."

Illumination already planned to make "Despicable Me" with Mac Guff before the 20% tax rebate for foreign production -- nicknamed the "TRIP" -- was passed by the French government in December. The film was able to benefit from the tax credit because production took place after the Jan. 1 launch date of the rebate.

" 'Despicable Me' also served as a benchmark for changing the tax rebate to be more friendly to animated films," Gallic film commission Film France's Franck Priot says. "We knew we needed to create a specific set of rules just for animated titles."