The Visual Effects Society has named Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri as the recipient of the 2019 VES Lifetime Achievement Award. The honor will be presented at the VES Awards next month in Los Angeles.

Selected by the VES Board of Directors, the Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes significant and lasting contributions to the art and science of the visual effects industry by way of vision, artistry, invention, and innovation. In bestowing the honor to Meledandri, the Visual Effects Society wanted to acknowledge his “unique ability to bring animation into the lives of audiences worldwide and create unforgettable characters that have become part of the pop culture zeitgeist.”

The group adds that “Meledandri’s leadership and creative approach to storytelling have built one of the most pre-eminent brands in family entertainment, by developing humor-based comedic films that strike the balance between subversive and emotionally engaging, and appeal to all ages and on a global scale.”

“Chris Meledandri has greatly contributed to the advancement and ever-increasing success of mainstream animate d entertainment over the last 20 years,” said Mike Chambers, VES board chair. “He is an amazing creative force and powerhouse producer, whose unique vision has delivered some of the most popular movie franchises of all time. His leadership in the industry is paving the way for future generations of artists and producers and he has helped redefine the profile of animation and visual effects on a global scale.”

Chris Meledandri.
Chris Meledandri.

Since founding Illumination in 2008, Meledandri has produced two of the five highest-grossing theatrical animated films of all-time (Minions and Despicable Me 3) as well as the highest-grossing animation franchise in history: Despicable Me.

The company’s eight fully-animated films, including The Grinch, The Secret Life of Pets, and Sing, have grossed over $6 billion worldwide. Its upcoming films include The Secret Life of Pets 2, Minions 2, and Sing 2.

Prior to Illumination, Meledandri was the founding president of 20th Century Fox Animation, where he oversaw the creation of the Ice Age franchise.

The previous winners of the VES Lifetime Achievement Award are:
George Lucas (2004)
Robert Zemeckis (2005)
Dennis Muren (2007)
Steven Spielberg (2008)
Kathleen Kennedy & Frank Marshall (2009)
James Cameron (2010)
Ray Harryhausen (2011)
Stan Lee (2012)
Richard Edlund (2013)
John Dykstra (2014)
Ridley Scott (2016)
Ken Ralston (2017)
Jon Favreau (2018)

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