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Universal's Animation Whiz Chris Meledandri Supplies a Hit Big Enough for Its Own Ride: 'Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem' Opens at Orlando

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood July 2, 2012 at 3:25PM

You know you've made a successful family film if it gets its own theme park ride. Universal's Chris Meledandri, who headed the animation for hits "Despicable Me" and "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax," today gets to see the opening of Universal Orlando's Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem.
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Despicable Me Minions

You know you've made a successful family film if it gets its own theme park ride. Universal's Chris Meledandri, who headed the animation for hits "Despicable Me" and "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax," today gets to see the opening of Universal Orlando's Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem.

Universal has struggled in the hit department in the past couple of years, let alone the hit-turned-ride department. Indeed, Universal parks have rented franchises such as Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter," Paramount's "Transformers" and Fox's "The Simpsons" as a means of keeping up with the properties that will lure families looking for fun. Thus Meledandri is "something of a corporate hero" at Universal for being the creative brain child behind "Despicable Me," which has proven popular enough to spawn both a sequel and a ride.

The next rung on the ladder? A land. John Lasseter has taken over twelve acres of Disney's California Adventure with a "Cars" fantasia, and James Cameron and Disney are working on an "Avatar" kingdom in Orlando.

This article is related to: Universal, Animation, Pixar , Theme Park


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.