In the realm of animation, studios such as Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks have long been established as mainstays, but relative newcomer Illumination Entertainment is quickly joining their ranks. Illumination is the company behind the Despicable Me franchise, which to date has produced two installments in the core series (with a third on the way this summer) and an extremely lucrative Minions spinoff. Last year, they scored two massive hits in The Secret Life of Pets and Sing, both of which finished in the top 10 on the 2016 domestic box office charts. It's safe to say they've found a formula that works.
Recently, Illumination announced release dates for a trio of sequels: The Secret Life of Pets 2 (July 2019), Minions 2 (July 2020), and Sing 2 (December 2020). That gives the studio plenty to work on over the next few years, but Illumination isn't stopping there. They're now looking well into the next decade as they plan out their slate, securing premieres for four new mystery films.
In a press release, Illumination revealed they will release movies on July 2, 2021, July 1, 2022, December 21, 2022, and June 30, 2023. All of these were listed as Untitled Illumination Animated Film, so there's nothing to indicate what these projects could be at this juncture. It goes without saying, however, that some of these windows could be for future installments in some of their pre-existing series, should their scheduled followups prove to be successful. Right now, there are no other films planned for these dates, but that could change seeing how far away they are.
Illumination fans are no doubt excited to see more from the worlds of Secret Life of Pets and Sing, but there probably are those hoping for some original stories to be part of the schedule. Though the studio's offerings are not as critically acclaimed as some of their rivals, Illumination has still shown an adeptness at creating fun new concepts that connect with audiences. As they continue to grow in stature, it would be nice if they used their high profile to produce fresh ideas, finding some balance between original films and sequels/spinoffs, much like Pixar has over the past few years. By now, Illumination executives know that the studio's name alone can sell a film, so they really should have no limits.
It will be interesting to see what movies they ultimately make, but this is a sign that Illumination is very much here to stay. Last year proved that they are a force to be reckoned with, as they provided two of the rare non-Disney smashes. Animation fans have definitely taken a liking to Illumination's style, and the fact that they will keep busy for the next handful of years is a welcome development for many - regardless of what they do down the line.
Source: Illumination/Universal Pictures
- Despicable Me 3 (2017) release date: Jun 30, 2017