Chris Meledandri, the founder and CEO of animation studio Illumination, is joining Nintendo as an “Outside Director,” per Nintendo’s recent financial earnings report. The addition will occur “upon approval at the 81st Annual General Meeting of Shareholders to be held on June 29, 2021.” The nature of the role has not been expanded upon, but this addition is not coming completely out of left field. Meledandri and Nintendo Creative Fellow Shigeru Miyamoto are working together to create the 3D-animated Super Mario movie in development at Illumination, which Miyamoto is heavily involved in.
If Nintendo and Illumination are partnering more closely with Chris Meledandri becoming Outside Director, it bodes well for the future of Nintendo animation. Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has already expressed that the company is interested in looking at expanding into animation with more Nintendo IP, and Illumination is now better positioned to cater to Nintendo’s needs. Right now, the animation studio is best known for the Despicable Me / Minions IP, but if it could also become known for the likes of Kirby and Splatoon — suffice to say, that would be a win.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Nintendo movie world, it’s seeming increasingly unlikely that a Detective Pikachu 2 will enter full development.