Since its debut film release Despicable Me in 2010, Universal’s animation studio Illumination Entertainment has forged a path for itself as one of the industry’s most lucrative animated film producers, earning over $8billion in box office receipts across its thirteen movies and establishing one of the biggest franchises (and most lucrative intellectual properties) in all of Hollywood, the Minions.
Across little over a decade, the studio that Despicable Me built has become a legitimate box office rival to the animation powerhouses Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks. And, though its annual output has received less stellar reviews than the work of its more established contemporaries, many of Illumination’s films outrank the work of fellow animation studios in terms of audience recognition and wider cultural impact.
In this edition of Ranked, we at The Film Magazine are analysing and evaluating every feature-length film produced by Illumination Entertainment and ranking them in terms of their entertainment value, artistic merit, criticial reception, audience perception, and contribution to their form. These are the Illumination Entertainment Animated Movies Ranked.
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13. Hop (2011)
Worldwide Box Office: $184million
Starring: James Marsden, Kaley Cuoco, Russell Brand, Elizabeth Perkins, Hugh Laurie, Gary Cole, David Hasselhoff, Hank Azaria
So far Illumination’s only step into the world of live-action/animation hybrids, Hop was a flop critically and with good reason.
The movie, starring James Marsden (X-Men; Sonic the Hedgehog) and ‘Big Bang Theory’ actress Kaley Cuoco, as well as a slew of famous supporting names including Russell Brand, Hank Azaria and Hugh Laurie, was unremarkable in almost every aspect apart from how cheesy it was, with the high-end list of actors seemingly knowing how bad the movie was destined to be and therefore playing it like a purposefully terrible spoof movie.
Hop was an early misfire for a studio looking to prove its credentials, and though it does still pass as an acceptable movie for children to enjoy, it doesn’t even come close to the rest of Illumination’s catalogue and is by far the worst of their releases to date.
12. Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022)
Worldwide Box Office: $940million
Starring: Steve Carell, Michelle Yeoh, Julie Andrews, Alan Arkin, Russell Brand, Taraji P. Henson, Lucy Lawless, Danny Trejo, Jean-Claude van Damme
The sequel to the billion-dollar hit Minions sought to address some of the original film’s issues, namely its nonsensical plot that was completely absent of stakes. In doing so, this 2nd Minions movie somehow became more boring.
Minions was like a fever dream – a series of barely consequential moments stitched together by 60s music and a seemingly unlimited imagination – where as Minions: The Rise of Gru played more like a lesser Despicable Me, an origin story for Gru that nobody asked for, and committed the ultimate Origin Story faux pas: to dilute the mythos of its hero with boring and barely thought out reasoning for his many quirks.
A guaranteed box office smash from the moment it was green lit, Minions: The Rise of Gru made just short of $1billion at the box office, the Minions branding further establishing itself as the financial backbone of Universal’s relatively young animation studio.
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