French animation "Despicable Me 2" becomes Universal Studio's highest grossing film ever

"Despicable Me 2" featuring Gru and 10,400 Minions
"Despicable Me 2" featuring Gru and 10,400 Minions DR/Universal studios

Created out of a studio in Paris’ 15th arrondisment, the animated sequel "Despicable Me 2" is raking in big money in Hollywood. The blockbuster comedy featuring the voices of Steve Carrell and Miranda Cosgrove has become Universal Studio’s highest grossing film ever.


Olivier-Rene Veillon, president of the Ile-de-France Film Commission, said the studio’s latest film “perfectly illustrates the ability of French studios to make original and innovative content for the world market.”

The 3D computer-animated movie created with a budget of 76 million dollars has made nearly 700 million dollars at the box office since its June release.

The movie was made at the Illumination Mac Guff studio, which was founded in 2011 when French visual effects company Mac Guff was acquired by Universal subsidiary Illumination Entertainment.

This latest success further illuminates France's lead in animation which stretches back to the early 20th century.

The first hand-drawn French cartoon to come to life was the 1908 animated film Fantasmagorie by Emil Cohl.

In the two minute film, 700 drawings seamlessly present a slapstick comedy of chalkboard looking caricatures and objects constantly morphing and changing shape.

Fast forward 70 years, and animation really started gaining traction when the Ministry of Culture passed an initiative in 1982 to fund animated films through the National Centre for Cinema.

This coupled with the development of 3D software opened up French animation to the world.

Marc du Pontavice, founder of Xilam which creates the television series “Oggy and the Cockroaches”, attributes France’s knack for animated films to the country’s rich history in painting, and later illustration and cartoons.

That tradition is continuing today, and Pontavice added to Agence France Presse that some 500 young animators graduate each year and are attracting the attention of big US studios.

And with the worldwide success of "Despicable Me 2" the French studio Illumination Mac Guff is gearing up for a November expansion that will add 200 employees to its 400 member team.

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