Illumination (also known as Illumination Entertainment) is an American film and animation studio founded by Chris Meledandri in 2007 and co-owned by Universal Pictures, a division of its wholly owned subsidiary NBCUniversal.
The company was formed after Meledandri left as president of 20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios in early 2007. While at those companies, he supervised or executive-produced movies including the first two Ice Age films, Robots, and Horton Hears a Who!. After he left, a deal was announced positioning Illumination as Universal's family entertainment arm that would produce one to two films a year starting in 2010. During the summer the following year, Illumination acquired the animation department of the French animation and visual effects studio Mac Guff, and formed Illumination Mac Guff (now Illumination Studios Paris).
The studio is responsible for the Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets and Sing franchises, and the movies Hop, The Lorax, and The Grinch, as well as the upcoming films The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Migration, the former in association with Nintendo Studios. The minions from the first title are the studio's mascots.
(July 9, 2010-)
Logo: On a dark background with a reflective floor, a large stacked text reading "ILLUMINATION ENTERTAINMENT" (or in later years, "ILLUMINATION") appears (written in Futura Condensed). Minions appear below the text (usually Bob and/or Stuart) and get up to a comedic skit, which varies:
- Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 (ABC airing): A minion peeks out from the right side of the screen, anxiously greeting the audience. Then, all of a sudden, the text appears behind him, flashing brightly. The minion is clearly frightened by the loud music that plays as it appears, and as the music ends, he stands stunned, and then falls over. He then crawls off the screen.
- On the first two trailers for Hop, there's a short version of this variant in which it just shows the minion peeking in, but the text is already there.
- Hop: A minion stands in the centre, staring at the camera. Another minion prances in from the left, wearing bunny ears and a cotton bunny tail, while carrying an Easter basket and tossing candy. He stops in front of the other minion and shows off his costume, but he is not amused. The latter tosses some candy at the former's goggle, chuckles nervously and takes off the ears, and the former looks back at the camera.
- The Lorax: The text looks different. We see a minion attempting to cut down a truffula tree with a chainsaw, while another observes. However, the chainsaw shakes the tree, causing Lou the Barbaloot from the movie to fall out, and crush the former. The latter slowly backs away nervously from Lou, who is eating some truffula fruits.
- Despicable Me 2 (most prints): Again, a different design for the text. Two minions stand at the bottom right corner of the logo. The former poses and shouts "TA-DAAA!", then the latter shoves him aside and also shouts "TA-DAAA!" in a different pose. The former then shoves the latter and shouts "TA-DAAA!" once again, and then the two minions then start yelling "TA-DAAA!" at each other and start pushing and shoving until the former shoves the latter off-screen, and triumphantly yells "TA-DAAA!". The latter then chimes "TA-DAA!" off-screen, causing the former to mumble in frustration.
- Minions: The preceding Universal Pictures logo has a five-minion chorus singing along with the logo's theme arranged by Brian Tyler, and one minion voice continues to sing the closing note as the logo fades in, revealing the five-minion chorus, and the minion in the centre is still singing the note as the others watch(except for the one on the very left, who stares at the camera depressingly). The minion finally runs out of breath and falls flat on his face, then weakly holds out a hand for the others to lift him up, but quickly puts it back down as the other minions exchange glances.
- It's worth noting that this was a part of the first track of that film's soundtrack, entitled "Universal Fanfare".
- On the theatrical trailer for Sing, it only shows the part where the minion falls.
- The Secret Life of Pets (prototype): A minion is seen teasing a puppy by squeaking and pretending to throw a ball. He continues until a group of dogs come in from the right, and one of them barks at the minion. The minion then realizes he is being mean to the puppy and throws the ball, chuckling nervously, and the puppy goes after it, but the dogs instead start chasing him offscreen. Then, a chihuahua runs after the group of dogs, barking until it goes offscreen. This variant did not make it into the final movie for unknown reasons. This is also the first and so far only variant in which a minion does not look at the camera.
- The Secret Life of Pets (final version) and Despicable Me 2 (NBC airing): The text is nowhere to be seen. Bob from Minions walks in from the right, scatting a tune. Just then, the text "MIN" and "ION" (perhaps not coincidentally, the word "Minion") turns on like a large neon sign and flashes briefly, while the light above the "I" in "MIN" glows. The rest of the text turns on the same way. Bob looks at the text and is amazed. He then turns to the audience and shouts the company name twice before squeeing excitedly.
- A version that starts where he says the company name was seen on the shorts The Secret Life of Kyle and Minion Scouts.
- There is also another version without the "ENTERTAINMENT" text. This can be seen on a trailer for The Secret Life of Pets 2.
- Another one exists without Bob, which was seen at the start of four short films (Mower Minions, Norman Television, Weenie, and Yellow is the New Black) and the end of Minions Holiday Special. This version is still.
- On How to Draw a Minion and Saturday Morning Minions, the logo is inverted (black text on a white background) and remade in 2D. Like The Secret Life of Kyle and Minion Scouts, it is cut.
- On the first trailer for Minions: The Rise of Gru, it starts where Bob squees.
- Sing: Four minions appear at the right side of the screen, Bob, Stuart, Mel and Kevin. Kevin plays a kazoo, then sings some "la" notes. He then sings the company name and Mel and Stuart sing with him in the form of a barbershop quartet, whilst raising their arms in the air, and their singing makes the text glow. Bob, who doesn't get the idea, sings the name in a crazy off-key yell, which gives the text too much glow, causing "MIN" and "ION" to lose power and black out. Bob sees what he did, looks at the screen, and says "Whoops!" as the other minions stare in disappointment.
- On a TV spot for the movie, we see Stuart, Kevin and Bob in the center laughing. Also, they looked pasted on the template rather than added in.
- Despicable Me 3: Three minions appear at the right side of the screen, Kevin, Stuart and Mel. Kevin, holding a script, clears his throat and tries to say the company name, but Stuart knocks him out with a vase. He swipes Kevin's script and tries to do the same, but Mel whacks him into the floor with a hammer and takes the script. Bob walks in with the fart gun from the first two movies. As Mel begins to say the name, he stops to question the fart gun, to which Bob sprays gas, causing Mel to faint in disgust. Bob then gets the script and successfully says the name. The unconscious Mel farts on Bob and he shakes his hand in disgust.
- The Grinch (trailers):
- The text is off. Bob turns a flashlight on and says the company name in a dark manner, laughing maniacally afterwards. The text suddenly turns on, scaring him away.
- The text appears above at first. A minion is seen in the distance, blowing a party blower to another minion who is close to the camera and annoyed by the blower. The letter then grabs the end of the blower, pulls the former towards him and shoves him off-screen. The latter moves out, the text drops down to the centre and Bob is heard saying the company name.
- A spotlight turns on, revealing Bob, who gets joined by Stuart and Kevin. The camera zooms out as the minions notice some small eyes outside the spotlight, which frightens them. Another spotlight turns on, revealing the eyes to belong to Max, Gidget, Duke and Snowball from The Secret Life of Pets. Behind them, they notice a sparkling yellow twist, and yet another spotlight turns on, revealing Gunter from Sing. Suddenly, the spotlights turn off, and the camera pans to the Grinch from his self-titled movie, having pulled the plug to the spotlights. He connects it to another cable, turning on a giant neon sign shaped like his movie's logo off-screen. The camera zooms out to reveal it. Bob walks in from the left, and the sign turns into the text. The Toho Cinemas emblem drops in and bonks the Grinch on the head. As Bob says the company name, the emblem picks him up, and carries him off-screen, transitioning to the Toho Cinemas logo.
- The background, even the text, is covered entirely in snow, with snow also falling throughout. Stuart and Kevin are seen wearing Christmas outfits as they play with tambourines, while Bob plays in the snow, shouting out the company name as he catches snowflakes on his tongue. This is also seen at the start of the Minions Holiday Special.
- The Grinch (the film itself): Bob stands on the right side of the screen, waves a sparkler and says the company name. Suddenly, Snowball the rabbit from The Secret Life of Pets (voiced by Kevin Hart) drops down from the top of the screen and yells the name. He then sets off some pyrotechnics over the logo's stage, burning Bob's feet, while Snowball laughs maniacally. The pyrotechnics trigger some sprinklers, dousing the flames and covering Snowball in water, much to his dismay. Bob gives his sparkler to Snowball, making him feel better. The text then brightens up the screen to start the movie.
- The Secret Life of Pets 2: A squeaky ball bounces in from the left. Six dogs on leashes run at the ball in the same direction it came, dragging a minion along. The dogs crowd at the ball and the minion smiles and chuckles with relief. The dogs soon knock the ball off-screen and stare at it for a moment before one of them barks and they chase it down, all barking. The minion screams the company name as he gets dragged off-screen.
- Sing 2: Starting with this film, the animations would be completely different compared to the previous ones. A light clunks on, and we see Bob leading Stuart, Kevin, Otto, Mel and countless other minions in a song involving the company name. The minions clap along as they sing. The camera slowly zooms out until we see the text above. As the minions finish their song with one big note, Otto can be seen doing a bunny-ears bomb on Stuart, which briefly makes Mel chuckle. The text turns off, and "MIN" and "ION" (a mirrored reference to the previous film's variant) are visible for a split-second before the screen turns black.
- Minions: The Rise of Gru: The text is smaller and closer to the floor than usual. A minion swings by on a disco ball, calling out the company name as purple and blue lights appear around the background. As the ball swings around, it knocks out some of the letters and the minion loses control and falls off. When he gets back up, he notices the remaining letters spell "Minion". He turns to the camera excitedly and and tries to say "Minion!", stuttering. Before he can finish, the disco ball swings back into the frame and hits "ION", pushing it into "MIN" and crushing the minion between them, thus forming "MINION". The minion then finishes "Minion...", muffled.
- On the second trailer, the lights are removed, and is cut short to the letters being knocked out.
- Penglai: We see the minion trio, animated in 2D, watering a plant. The text is also in 2D, and a bit bolder. Also seen on the end of the home video release trailer.
- The Super Mario Bros. Movie (trailers): We just see the text, which is smaller with a flash of light shining over the "T".
- On a Dutch Twitch ad for the film, the logo is in splitscreen with Nintendo Studios.
- Puppy: A minion is seen flying towards the left, using cardboard box flaps as wings. He then stops in front of a large bright white light on the left. The minion becomes fascinated by the light, then decides to go towards it, and the light electrocutes him. He then falls to the ground and the camera quickly zooms out, revealing the large light to be the text and revealing dozens of other minions who have done the same thing as the former, who painfully groans the company name.
- The Dog Days of Winter: The minion trio can be seen in front of a small gingerbread house with the text being seen on top of it while they stand in front of a blizzard wearing red and white scarves and shivering. The camera slightly shakes as the area around them rumbles, slightly startling Bob. It happens again, only stronger, which causes Bob to almost be swept away by the snow as Kevin pulls him back. They stand there for a bit as the area shakes once more, this time causing all of them to float and spin around the house. The camera then zooms back to reveal that the area and the minions are actually part of a snowglobe being shaken by the young Grinch from his self-titled movie, completely oblivious to the minions inside.
- Minion Scouts: On a dark, starry night background, the top of the text can be seen at the bottom of the screen, with an orange glow. A wooden platform held by two strings lowers, holding the minion trio, who are ready to roast some marshmallows on the glowing text. Kevin and Stuart pull out their sticks, with four marshmallows on each one, and start roasting. Bob takes some time to pull out his stick, and when he does, it holds a huge jumble of marshmallows curled up in a ball, much to Kevin and Stuart's surprise. Bob laughs excitedly and says the company name, as the camera zooms out and reveals the rest of the text, which has a glowing top and a more metallic center and bottom.
- Norman Television: This is the first ever animated variant without any minions. On a grey background, Chloe the cat from The Secret Life of Pets comes in from the right and sees a green feather next to one of the letters as its edge causes the feather to be stuck. She then tries to take it off nicely, before cutting to a montage of her trying to take it off in several aggressive manners before she pushes the letter forward until it eventually topples, freeing the feather. Chloe looks in shock at what she did to the letter. The camera then zooms out and reveals another letter on the right with a purple feather stuck on it, which Chloe then spots and decides to leave the green one to try and take off. The camera zooms out again, revealing the letters to be the "I" and "N", with the "I", being made of glass-like material, being broken due to the fall.
- Training Wheels: A minion can be seen sitting on a bicycle in a dark room. He then sighs and cracks his fingers before starting to pedal the bike, which powers up some sort of electric machine that powers a huge lightbulb off-screen. We then cut to a wide shot of it, revealing several other minions standing around the bulb which has the text in it's filament. As it lights up, the minions gasp in admiration as one of them says the company name in that manner.
- Love at First Sight: On a green background, Miss Crawly from Sing (voiced by Garth Jennings, the film's writer/director) can be seen pushing various letters that form the text in an somewhat exasperated, but mostly tired manner, starting with the "N", as the camera angles change between every shot. After she pushes the "I" towards it's "place", her work is finally finished, and she slowly walks across the text, which, in a far shot, she accidentally arranged as "LILI MOUNTAIN".
- The Secret Life of Kyle: Bob can be seen in the middle of an eye test, trying to read an off-screen snellen chart while another minion teaches him. As Bob reads the word in the chart wrong two times, the other minion gives him a pair of pink glasses with magnifying lens on them, making Bob's eyes seem bigger. The camera then cuts to an angle revealing the text on the chart as Bob reads it out correctly and happily repeats the company name afterward as the latter happily looks on.
- Weenie: Bob and Stuart are on the ground, with the former's ice cream having melted. Suddenly, a ball knocks out Stuart, which then cuts back to reveal the titular character from The Lorax and two Barbaloots on an orange background, grabbing it with a net. It then cuts to Chloe on a steel blue gradient background who swallows it and then spits it out, then hits a young Grinch on a green background, followed by Ash from Sing who hits it with her guitar on a red background. We then cut to Delroy the parrot (a new character voiced by Keegan-Michael Key), perched on a stand who gets hit by it on a darker red background, followed by Snowball in his superhero costume who gets hit by it. We then cut to a light green background, where the ball is revealed to be the eye of Miss Crawley. She picks it up, and the camera cuts back to reveal the text as she walks away and the other characters are seen.
- Forces of Nature: At early dusk with truffula trees in the background, we see the Lorax, holding a basket as he plants some seeds down. It then cuts to night where he uses a watering can, then cuts to him turning on two different lights, followed by him relaxing in the grass at daytime. The camera zooms away to reveal the text done in flowers.
- Santa's Little Helpers: We see the young Grinch, who is sad sitting on a snowy hill at night. We cut back to see the minion trio, as it then cuts to them rolling up a large ball with colorful lightbulbs as they figure them out. Kevin then convinces Stuart who is on a snowy tree, to hold them. They all get on the trees as it fades to several shots of them getting the bulbs up. Then we cut back to the Grinch, as the minions go back to him while Kevin holds a button. The Grinch then presses it, as we see the text in a script made from the bulbs while they watch.
- Mower Minions: On a dark background, the minion trio are seen carrying some beach towels, ready to do some sunbathing. They lay down their towels, put on their sun shorts, sit on their beach towels, put on sunglasses and apply some sunblock. Bob pushes a button, which turns on a huge UV light behind the camera. The minion trio then start sunbathing. The camera cuts to the UV light which is shaped like the text.
- Super Gidget: The minion trio are seen sitting in a movie theater, laughing at a funny scene. The camera pans to the left, showing other Illumination characters. The Grinch stares at a weird scene, Snowball screams and winces at the sight of a scary scene and Miss Crawly tears up over a sad scene. The camera then stops panning, showing Ash and Chloe. Chloe is watching the movie with her tongue stuck out. Ash urges Chloe to put her tongue back in, and she does. The camera then cuts to the screen, which shows the text.
- Yellow is the New Black: The text is seen on the floor. The minion trio enter from the right, seeming to be shopping. Kevin takes the first four letters in armfuls, while Stuart takes the "A" and Bob takes the third "I" and they scuttle off-screen. After a brief moment, Kevin is heard yelling at Bob, who walks back in, places his "I" between "MIN" and the "T" then hurries off with the "T", the letter he was supposed to take.
- Eddie's Life Coach: We see a close up of Ash jamming out on her guitar before zooming out to reveal the rest of her. As she jams out, several purple amp meters suround her, all shaped like the letters in the text. We then zoom out to reveal the rest of them. The camera then zooms in on Ash's guitar for the last few notes before the screen cuts to black.
- Competition: In a blue metal room, a group of minions in hard hats carry a giant red plug, which they then place in a giant socket. Some other minions flip a giant switch from "OFF" to "ON". The plug's wire leads out of the building the minions are in, through numerous transmission lines and high into the sky. The wire goes into space, and powers the text, floating over the planet, as numerous minions float around it, cheering. One of the minions suddenly notices their work is wiping out all the world's energy, and tries to warn the others. The whole planet blacks out, and so does the text, causing the former to sigh in disappointment.
- Serenade: On a hilltop at night, the minion trio carry some fireworks for a display, with Kevin carrying a few fireworks, Bob carrying a big firework and Stuart carrying a heap of fireworks. We then cut to the night sky, and see the minions' fireworks creating pictures of Bob, the Grinch, the Lorax, Snowball and finally the text, while the minions are heard gasping, cheering and calling out each picture's name.
- Cro Minion: The text appears at the top of the screen, with the "N" in the middle missing. The minion trio appear at the bottom of the screen, with a pink, "N"-shaped helium balloon to fill it in. Kevin raises the balloon, and it floats up to the text, carrying Bob with it. However, it goes over the text and off-screen. Luckily, Stuart has a bow and some arrows to pop the balloon, just in case. Kevin urges Stuart to do so, and he tries, but ends up striking Bob. He finds this entertaining, and does it several times before Kevin once again urges him to pop the balloon, and he does. Bob falls back down with an arrow-covered bottom, and painfully groans the company name, pronouncing it "Illumi-ation", just like the text says.
- Wagon Ho: The Lorax is seen between two truffula trees with a watering can, watering the one on the left. As he moves on to the other one, he encounters Bob, who asks him to water his bald head, and he does, causing Bob to grow a big head of truffula "hair". Bob admires his new look, thanks the Lorax, and runs off-screen. The Lorax looks on at Bob, before resuming his tree-watering duties. The camera cuts to a far shot, revealing him to be amongst a row of trees shaped like the text.
- Binky Nelson Unpacified: The Grinch is seen leading the minion trio through a snow-covered forest, when they enter deep snow. The Grinch shovels through the snow, and the minions follow. They then go in a loop, while Bob desperately tries to keep up. They are then seen going seperate paths, and Bob pops out from behind, trying to find them. As Bob scatters through the trails, he belives he has gotten lost and sobs. Luckily, Kevin finds him and leads him onto shallow snow. The Grinch and the minions resume their hike, and the camera cuts to their trail, which spells out the text.
- Panic in the Mailroom: The text is off. Kevin and Stuart stand at the bottom of the screen. Stuart turns a knob, and the text begins to turn on. Kevin urges Stuart to make the text brighter and brighter, until it creates a blast of light, inverting the text and background colors. Kevin and Stuart are completely black, except their eyes, teeth and tongues. Kevin is blinded and looks around for Stuart, who is right behind him.
- Gunter Babysits: On a white background, Kevin and Stuart are seen loading Miss Crawly with a blaster and a container holding light green paint. Kevin urges Miss Crawly to use the blaster to cover a wall in the paint, and Stuart pulls out an umbrella in case the paint comes at him. Miss Crawly tries to fire the paint, but the blaster does not work, and she asks the minions if it will really work. After a while, the blaster fires, carrying Miss Crawly with it. She manages to control it, but it then moves around crazily, covering the wall in paint. She tries to hold it down but it carries her upwards. Eventually, Kevin and Stuart come to check. Kevin notices that the splats on the wall from the blaster have formed the text and says the company name enthusiastically, before Miss Crawly whizzes back in and strikes him and Stuart.
Alternate Descriptive Video Transcriptions:
- Despicable Me: A tiny one-eyed creature peeks out and waves at us. Behind him, light shines through the words, "ILLUMINATION ENTERTAINMENT". Its brilliance blows past the creature like wind. The light fades. The creature falls flat on its face and crawls out of view.
- Hop: Now words appear “ILLUMINATION ENTERTAINMENT” A frolicking minion tosses candy from a basket, he wags a bunny tail at a one-eyed minion but throws candy at his goggles, Embarassed, he takes off the bunny ear headband and grins.
- The Lorax: Another logo appears “ILLUMINATION ENTERTAINMENT” Two minions stand under a
- The Secret Life of Pets: A silver logo reads "ILLUMINATION ENTERTAINMENT". A minion points to it.
- The still version and some trailers lack the minions. Also seen on the game Despicable Me: Minion Rush.
- Starting with Sing, the name is three-dimensional.
- Starting with the second trailer of Despicable Me 3 and the film itself, "ENTERTAINMENT" is removed.
- From The Grinch to Sing 2, the logo cuts in and out instead of fading in and out.
Technique: CGI animation by Illumination themselves through their animation studio in Paris, Illumination Mac Guff (now known as Illumination Studios Paris). 2D animation for How to Draw a Minion, Saturday Morning Minions and Penglai, and none for the still variants.
Music/Sounds: Just the minions (voiced by Pierre Coffin) doing their thing.
- On the Despicable Me variant, a loud, bombastic three-note fanfare is heard as the logo appears, kinda sounding like the Viacom "Wigga-Wigga" logo, composed by Heitor Pereira (one of the film's composers).
- Starting with The Secret Life of Pets, one of the minions (usually Bob) says the company name at the beginning or the end of each logo. In variants where Bob appears without Stuart and Kevin, the name is said twice. In variants from the Sing franchise, they sing the name in unison. On Minions & More, they only say it at the end of a few variants.
- On Minions & More, sounds from the non-minion characters differ. Sometimes they use laughs, grunts and screams, other times they are completely silent. Unlike the others though, Miss Crawly uses full English sentences.
- None or the opening theme of the trailer for the still versions.
- On Saturday Morning Minions, only Bob's voice is present.
- There used to be a version of the Despicable Me variant on the company's website that removes the footstep sound effects, the fanfare sounds a little different and is louder and a little more bombastic, and the sounds when the minion falls and crawls off-screen are different. The minion's sounds are still the same, though.
- Sometimes, the opening theme plays over the logo, while the minions talk and the sound effects play.
- On some of the Minions & More variants, a calming guitar tune is heard.
Availability: Current and common. Seen on all of the company's films.
- The variant formerly seen on Illumination's website is extinct as the website rebranded around 2016.
- The prototype variant for The Secret Life of Pets is unused, and can be found on Facebook.
- The logo also appears on Penglai, that being Illumination's first film without Universal's involvement, and the first one not to be paired on a home video release.
Legacy: This logo has gained notoriety for its constant use of Illumination's mascots, the minions, and opinions will vary wildly based on whether you find the minions charming or annoying. The Sing 2 variant is generally considered the best even by those who dislike the other logos, however, and some think it should become the main logo on future films.