One of the main things that Illumination Entertainment prides itself on (other than making hit films on modest budgets) is its intentional position as a global animation unit (from both a creative and business standpoint). Founder and CEO Chris Meledandri said as much during his keynote speech at this year’s Annecy Animated Film Festival. Now, on the verge of the US premiere of Minions, Illumination continues to practice that philosophy with this piece of news.
Deadline reported that the studio formed a first-look deal and creative partnership with South Korean studio Mofac Alfred. As part of this deal, Illumination has optioned the rights to Mofac’s award-winning short film Johnny Express as its first feature collaboration.
Formed in 2003 by Korean writer, director, and animator Kyungmin Woo, Mofac Alfred is one of Korea’s leading animation and motion graphic companies. The deal reportedly came about as Meledandri traveled across Asia to promote Minions. Talks were already happened prior to this, but it wasn’t until Meledandri visited Mofac Alfred’s headquarters that the deal was solidified. This will be the first deal of its type between animation companies in the US and Korea. The hope is that other Mofac Alfred projects will be turned into feature films.
Released in May of 2014, Johnny Express was co-written and directed by Woo and has recently made the rounds at festival circuits, where it became the recipient of two awards from the New York International Children’s Film Festival back in March.
The five-minute short is set in the future (2150, to be exact). The plot revolves around the title character as a “Space Delivery Man who travels to different planets to deliver packages. When the spaceship arrives at the destination, all he has to do is simply deliver the box. However, it never goes as planned. Johnny encounters strange and bizarre planets and always seems to cause trouble on his delivery route.”
Watch the short film below:
With Minions set to make a massive stateside bow (with a reported $100+ million debut), this deal continues Illumination’s meteoric ascent to ‘Big Three’-level status (at least financially). I’m not sure that this deal will help them become better storytellers, but one can be optimistic.
What do you think? Do you have any thoughts on Johnny Express?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes