Illumination Founder Chris Meledandri Joins Nintendo’s Board of Directors

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

During Nintendo’s annual shareholders’ meeting, the Q&A revealed that Chris Meledandri, the Oscar-nominated founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment, has been added to the company’s board of directors.

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During the meeting, Nintendo’s Representative Director and President Shuntaro Furukawa was asked: “What kind of impact on Nintendo’s future do you expect from the appointment of Chris Meledandri as an outside director? Nintendo’s core business is its integrated hardware-software dedicated video game platform business, and for the continuous growth of that business, your basic strategy is to expand the number of people who have access to Nintendo IP in fields like visual content and theme parks. With the appointment of Mr. Meledandri, will the field of visual content occupy a more important position for Nintendo?”

In his response, Furukawa explained:

“Chris Meledandri is the founder of Illumination Entertainment and has experience as a producer who created numerous films including the Despicable Me franchise, which introduced the Minions. He has gained broad experience and insight as a corporate manager and in the field of entertainment, so we anticipate he will appropriately supervise our management from an objective perspective while providing valuable advice to our leadership. Mr. Meledandri has been appointed as an independent and non-executive outside director, so he will not be directly involved in the executive of operation. However, we believe that his extensive experience and knowledge in the field of entertainment will have a beneficial effect on the decision-making of our board of directors.

“With regard to the visual content expansion, we are working on the Super Mario movie and have announced that other projects are also in progress. As you pointed out, our core business is the integrated hardware-software dedicated video game platform business. But to keep that business thriving and growing, we need to create opportunities where even people who do not normally play on video game systems can come into contact with Nintendo characters. As part of this effort, visual content could be important for us.”

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Additionally, the questioner also requested to hear the thoughts of Representative Director Shigeru Miyamoto, saying he appears to have a leading position in this field. Miyamoto added:

“Although this has no direct tie with his appointment as a director, I’ve been working with Chris for over five years now on the Super Mario movie. Through that relationship, I think he really came to understand the Nintendo point of view. I don’t think it’s easy for those overseas involved in media creation to understand Nintendo’s way of thinking, but Chris truly comprehends why Nintendo creates characters and visual content.

“We are working on mobile and visual content in order to expand our integrated hardware-software business globally. Working on mobile content reminded us again that while the Nintendo game systems may have reached some parts of the world, there are many places where they are not widespread. We started the mobile business because we felt it very important to conduct activities that encourage people to understand the Nintendo brand and come to like Nintendo. That resulted in realizing the importance of visual content. By possessing video content and not just games, Nintendo will be able to expand its content further throughout the world and become stronger as a company. The fact that we are a video game developing company tends to create the mistaken impression that we can also create movies easily. It’s true that the processes of making visual content and developing games share some of the same ways of thinking, but there are also differences.”

Miyamoto concluded by saying that the movie business, including distribution, is going through a period of transformation, and that Meledandri’s input will be of great help to Nintendo in the future thanks to his “years of experience in Hollywood.”