Nintendo, a gaming console manufacturing giant, just confirmed that Chris Meledandri, the CEO of American animation studio Illumination, the same one responsible for the Despicable Me media franchise, officially joined Nintendo’s board of directors.
Chris Meledandri’s appointment was addressed during Nintendo’s 81st Annual General Meeting of Shareholders to appropriately supervise and advise Nintendo’s leadership, as reported by IGN. Nintendo’s president, Shuntaro Furukawa, commented on Melendandri’s election, his broad experience, and insight as a corporate manager in the field of entertainment, outlining Melendandri’s role as an outside board member as one that’s advisory and supervisory.
As such, Meledandri’s role within Nintendo won’t be directly involved in the execution of operations, but his extensive experience and knowledge in the field of entertainment will have a beneficial effect on the decision-making of the company’s executives. It’s worth noting that Meledandri’s recent appointment has nothing to do with his work on the Super Mario film, along with one of Nintendo’s directors, Shigeru Miyamoto, for over five years. Instead, his new appointment within the company correlates with Nintendo’s desire to produce more movies based on its own IPs.
There is a long relationship between video games and their cinematic adaptations, branding them as difficult to pull off successfully. According to Miyamoto, the company recognized that the creation of visual content, such as video game-based movies, isn’t an easy field to master. But then again, Nintendo doesn’t have to master that field. It only has to hire someone who already mastered it, and that someone is Chris Meledandri. At least he can provide valuable insight into how the movie industry works, from pre-production to distribution, helping Nintendo achieve its goals of entering the movies business.
In truth, bringing Chris Meledandri on board was a brilliant business move by Nintendo, given his success with two out of three highest-grossing franchises worldwide: Despicable Me and Ice Age. Critically acclaimed Despicable Me was reportedly the most-watched film on the world’s largest streaming service, Netflix. In addition, its spin-off movie, 2015’s Minions, is the fourth highest-grossing animated movie worldwide, grossing over $1.15 billion.
Things seem to be going well for Nintendo, given how the company’s profits jumped 86% due to sales of the Nintendo Switch, which continues to outperform Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 in the sales department. For the most part, this is fueled by the disruption of the supply chain of the said consoles, which prompted many to turn to readily available Nintendo Switch, which is on its way to becoming the most popular handheld console of all time. But even in spite of the worldwide semiconductor and chip shortages, Nintendo announced the beginning of production of the Super Nintendo Switch – a new and improved Switch console.
It’s indisputable that Meledandri’s vast knowledge of film and animation will be an asset in regards to Nintendo’s expansion into cinematic domains. Prior to Illumination, Meledandri was a senior exec at 20th Century Fox and one of the founding presidents of 20th Century Fox Animation, where he created the Ice Age franchise – another high earner, grossing over $3.2 billion across all five movies. Hopefully, he’ll be able to recreate the same amount of success with the upcoming Super Mario: The Movie and all other Nintendo’s animated features beyond everyone’s favorite plumber.