The fine-tuned, unstoppable global success of the Despicable Me franchise might lead one to assume that the series was developed by a committee of entertainment professionals, a perfectly-engineered piece of cartoon entertainment designed to captivate the masses.
The actual history of its creation, however, is far different. In fact, what is most striking about the origins of Despicable Me is its humble and unlikely artist-driven roots. The creator of the original concept, none other than animator Sergio Pablos, tells the story of the origin and development in this new video:
Pablos, who was the supervising animator of Tantor in Disney’s Tarzan and Doctor Doppler in Treasure Planet, explains how he developed Despicable Me after he had returned to Spain to launch his own animation company, Animagic (now known as SPA Studios).
The idea he came up with – Evil Me – was driven by a simple question: What happens if it’s in a main character’s nature to be bad? As he developed the idea, he was also dealing with the creative and financial challenges of running his own company. “The money was running out, no jobs were coming in, none of our ideas had landed, we were essentially waiting to die,” Pablos says in the video.
But just when it seemed that everything would come crashing down, Evil Me found an unlikely champion in Chris Meledandri, who was looking for a film to launch his company, Illumination Entertainment. He bought the idea and reconfigured it into what has now become the highest-grossing animated feature franchise of all-time.
Pablos makes it clear that others were involved in developing the film after his pitch. The iconic Minions, for example, came later. Pablos even jokes in the video, “I’m not to blame for the Minions.”
Nevertheless, the seed of the mega-successful DM franchise is contained in his studio’s original pitch. It’s a reminder that billion-dollar ideas can come from anywhere nowadays, including a small independent animation studio in Spain, and that’s something worth celebrating.