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Illumination Entertainment nabs film rights for Uglydoll

Julian Stark

by: Julian Stark
May 26th, 2011

Characters from the Uglydoll franchise

Illumination Entertainment has proven to be quite a success for Universal. Its first feature,DESPICABLE ME, became a worldwide hit that was enjoyed by audiences and critics alike. HOP followed, and while that one wasn’t such a charmer, it still made a killing at the box office. The studio’s currently working on a Tim Burton feature based on THE ADDAMS FAMILY, as well as the animated film THE LORAX with Taylor Swift; now it’s looking to make a film focusing on…Uglydoll characters?

Deadline relays that the line of characters will get its own feature. Studio chief Chris Meledandri snagged the film rights for Uglydoll; LITTLE FOCKERS scribe Larry Stuckey is attached to write the screenplay. As is stated on Uglydoll’s official site, the eccentric dolls originated from love letters sent by creator James Horvath to Sun-Min Kim, his future creative partner and wife, in 2001. The characters derive from what’s called the Uglyverse, where the word “ugly” indicates that something or someone is special.

Almost any property can be profitable in today’s market, but this one seems like it might be a hard sell. However, Meledandri explains his reasoning behind acquiring these particular film rights, and he actually makes a fairly convincing argument:

“They are simple in design, expressive in personality, and once I got to know David and Sun-Min, I learned there was a mythology and a world behind this. The personality and level of wit reminded me of the illustrated work I saw from Matt Groening before he did The Simpsons. The characters have a cult following, and they've been very restrictive in where and how they've sold them. It has been a small cottage industry, but it seems just right for us in terms of the potential for a growth curve. Most importantly, the strength cuts to the heart of our strategy, which is, to start from the perspective of characters we feel have unique appeal to audiences, regardless of age."

As odd as it may seem, this project seems to have some promise. Not only should this provide some decent family-oriented entertainment, there’s also the potential to tell a message of self-acceptance without being preachy about it.

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