The Nikkster tells the tale:
Illumination Entertainment chief Chris Meledandri has hired Ashley Kramer to be EVP of Production and Gail Harrison to oversee Creative Marketing. The move signals expansion plans for the 4-year-old Universal Pictures-based company, whose first release Despicable Me grossed $540 million worldwide. ...
Meledandri is adding executives with the intention of doubling Illumination's output to two films per year by 2012 or 2013. ... "With Despicable Me behind us, the impending release of Hop, The Lorax in production and a Despicable Me sequel in early stages, it was time to properly scale the company and begin to solidify the team that will lead us as we move forward," Meledandri [said] ...
Which means there is one more successful, L.A.-based animation producer in the run for gold. Of course, Meledandri produced Despicable Me offshore in the very low-cost France. ("Is it all going to Paris?!") The upcoming hybrid Hop, however, was created in L.A.
Whether Illumination Entertainment's future plans include opening a studio here or (more likely) using existing facilities*, it's always good to give the Mouse and DreamWorks a little serious competition, since it means more jobs for artists and technicians. To date, the ceiling for animated features in the marketplace does not appear to have been reached.
Add On: And Illumination E. isn't wasting time moving ahead on its next project:
... [C]ountry music powerhouse [Taylor Swift] has joined the cast of Universal’s upcoming 3-D animated feature, “The Lorax,” based on the famous Dr. Seuss children’s book.
... Taylor will lend her voice to Audrey ...
So will Ms. Swift be singing? Writing songs for the pic? Inquiring Illumination Entertainment fanboys want to know.
* "Hop" was animated at Rhythm and Hues.