Exclusive: Producer Christopher Meledandri on CURIOUS GEORGE, Tim Burton’s ADDAMS FAMILY, FLANIMALS & THE LORAX

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Producer Chris Meledandri Interview DESPICABLE ME slice

With Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s Hop opening April 1, I was able to sit down with Christopher Meledandri (CEO of Illumination) earlier today for an extended interview.  As most of you know, Illumination’s first movie, Despicable Me, went on to earn over five hundred and twenty seven million dollars at the worldwide box office.  Not bad for a film that had no build in audience.

Over the past year, Illumination has been developing a number of projects and towards the end of my interview, I asked Meledandri about each of them.  So if you’re curious about the status of Curious George, Tim Burton’s stop-motion animation adaptation of The Addams Family, Ricky Gervais’ Flanimals, The Lorax, and the Despicable Me sequel, hit the jump:

curious_george_book_covergeorgeThe first thing to know is that the video of Meledandri talking about each of these projects is further down the page.  But here’s what he said about each one:

Curious George:

“We’re writing right now, so it’s in [the] scripting phase. We’re writing it as a film that is a combination of CG and live-action, and we won’t decide whether or not we’re actually gonna make it until after the scripting process.”

The Addams Family:

“Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander (writers of Ed Wood) are writing the script, and we worked through initial story phases with them and Tim [Burton] and they’re off writing the script right now as we speak. That’s one of those where, you know Tim is probably the busiest person in terms of people wanting him to make films as anybody could be, and if everything else were to fall into place, the most important of which is that Tim has to decide, when he has a script, if it’s something that he wants to move forward with, but we can’t move faster than Frankenweenie’s schedule which is in production now. And so that has to finish and come to fruition before there’s even a place for us to make the film.”

Flanimals:

“We’ve got a terrific draft of the script that Matt Selman (The Simpsons) has written, and we’ve got some early visual development that we’ve been doing. We’re taking the project, now that we’ve done some early artwork, we’re evolving it both visually and in script form simultaneously, so it’s a little bit further ahead than the other projects.”

Audrey (voiced by Taylor Swift) in DR. SEUSS' THE LORAXThe Lorax:

“Danny DeVito [is] voicing the Lorax and ZacEfron [is] voicing the role of Ted in a cast that involves Rob Riggle, Betty White [and] Taylor Swift. It’s a terrific voice cast. The film is visually absolutely distinctive and extremely powerful visually. It is a complex film from a story perspective, because the film is a story within a story. We’re, I’d say, about 30% through animation [and] I’m very pleased with how it’s going.”

The Future of Illumination Entertainment

“We’ve announced one picture a year through 2013, which will be the Despicable Me sequel. And we’ve just also announced that we’re scaling up the company to be prepared to move from one picture a year, which is the schedule that we’ve been on, to two pictures a year. We’ll only move there if we actually find the second picture that we’re compelled to make. One picture a year is absolutely our goal, or what we feel is the sort of foundational goal. We’re staffing to look at the possibility by 2013 going to two pictures a year.”

If you’re a fan of animation, this is a very exciting time.  It also sounds like Flanimals might be the next project they announce.  What I really like about Meledandri is that he talks a lot about the script and how that will decide if they make the movie.

Here’s the part of the interview on future projects.  You can expect the full twenty minute interview the week of release.

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  • aaronsullivan

    Okay, putting my Curious George fanboy hat on as my family, including 5 year old and almost 2 year old, are huge fans.

    I’m a big curious george fan and the Curious George 2 “movie” was a disaster of the highest order.

    Here you have a moderately successful 2D animated original Curious George movie that was great for preschoolers and then an amazingly endearing and fun animated series on PBS. Then comes the sequel. It is still 2D animated and follows a sort of combined look of the first movie and the TV series only it ignores the TV series completely and is a lousy film to boot. Seriously, boot it.

    Incidentally, there was a Christmas special George movie that came out in the US around the same time as Curious George on probably 1/8th the budget that was WAY better and could have benefitted budget-wise for songwriting and production value (more time to animate).

    Anyway, all this to say that a CG curious george with a live action component sounds like it would have some big issues and my only advice would be to study the incredibly successful TV show, which the last people tasked with a Curious George movie failed to do.

    In fact, I’d pay good money to see a feature that was all-animated full budget and included all the characters from the TV show.

    Live action plus CG just sounds REALLY bad because, hey, curious george is a –monkey– not an alien or strange beast or talking animal, he’s a monkey. It would have to be amazingly well done just to be acceptable. :)

  • Pingback: La Famiglia Addams di Tim Burton, il punto della situazione di Chris Meledandri | Il blog di ScreenWeek.it

  • Alan Smithee

    Tim Burton needs to seriously stop with the remakes.

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