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HOP

About The Production
Hopping Into Action: Production Begins

Producer Chris Meledandri began building his family and animation film business, Illumination Entertainment, with Universal Pictures in 2007. At that time, his company was three years away from the stunning results that would come with its inaugural 3D CGI summer 2010 feature, Despicable Me. The animated comedy became an unequivocal, global blockbuster. With a worldwide gross of more than $540 million, Despicable Me grew to become second only to Toy Story 3 in U.S. domestic gross among animated films last year, and it became the sixth most successful film that Universal has ever distributed worldwide. It is now the 10th-biggest animated film in history.

Prior to founding Illumination, Meledandri spent 13 years at FOX, where he oversaw the studio's animation division and the launch of blockbusters such as the Ice Age franchise. "We have this incredible opportunity, whether we're working exclusively in animation, or we're combining live action with animation, to write, design and animate rich, endearing and, hopefully, enduring characters,” quotes Meledandri. Meledandri commissioned Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (with whom he had worked on Dr. Suess' Horton Hears a Who! and Despicable Me) to develop the idea based on a concept by Illumination executive JOHN COHEN.

Together with Brian Lynch, Paul and Daurio created the fantastic story of E.B., the teenage son of the Easter Bunny who has no interest in his birthright. In the tiny region of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), E.B. has been raised with the expectation that he would one day inherit his dad's job. But all he wants to do is drum in a band and see the world that exists outside of his tiny island.

Halfway across the world, we meet Fred O'Hare, a 30-year-old who, though talented, has bounced from job to job—unable to find a career that is right for him. Meeting an unexpected houseguest in E.B. ironically proves to be the exact thing he needs to jumpstart his life.

Meledandri walks us through E.B.'s introduction: "On the eve of the power of Easter being passed to him by his father, E.B. is about 17 years old…in human years. He decides that it's not for him but when he tries to tell his dad, his dad won't listen. E.B. decides to split, leaving Easter in the lurch as he goes to Los Angeles where he pursues a career as a drummer. He ends up becoming the most unruly roommate of Fred. Ultimately, they're both characters who are struggling with the transition from adolescence into adulthood.”

To give these characters a rich world in which to play, the writers created an innovative, imaginative back-story for the Easter Bunny and his kind, in which everything we've ever assumed about the spring holiday is explained. Notes Cohen: "The world of Easter has never before been brought to life on film. By answering questions like ‘Where is all this candy made, who paints the eggs and how does the Easter Bunny travel from town to town?' our writers and design team created an entire world and new mythology located on Easter Island. It's a charming and fantastical factory run by bunnies and chicks where candy is manufactured and put into baskets, around the clock, in preparation for Easter.”

When considering who would helm the follow-up project to his company's first film, Meledandri returned to a director whom he'd met during his time as president of 20th Century Fox Animation, Tim Hill. Meledandri liked the fact that Hill would be joining an expanded team whose approach to making liveaction movies is so influenced by their experience in animation. He recounts: "We had a great experience with Tim, having developed Alvin and the Chipmunks with him and had been looking for an opportunity to work together again.”

"Tim showed such amazing abilities as a comedy director on the first Alvin film,” Imperato Stabile adds. "He is equally comfortable and skilled at directing human characters as he is at directing animal ones. His deep knowledge of the challenges and nuances—both technically and artistically—of blending live action with state-of-the-art CG animation has provided a daily education to those of us who are lucky enough to work with him.”

Hill agreed to come onboard, primarily because Illumination shared his vision of not "simply making a kids' movie.” He provides: "I never make movies for kids. I make them for me. To work, the sensibility and the tone have to be that of a comedy for any audience. On a comic level, the humor has to be more sophisticated than in most kid movies.”

In addition to the humor he found in Paul, Daurio and Lynch's screenplay, Hill believed that audiences would appreciate that for the first time, filmmakers were creating a cinematic treatment of a huge holiday. He notes: "No one's really done a big film about the Easter Bunny. I think that audiences will respond to this character who is so beautifully animated. He's cute, and he's got a lot of character.

"I believe Hop will play any time of the year and for any audience,” Hill continues. "We've created a piece of entertainment that's based around that time of year, and around a character that's associated with a myth…but it does play for all seasons. Hop is universal, because the story's universal.”

Down the Rabbit Hole: The Look of EasterWorld

Hop takes place in two very different locations: Los Angeles, where Fred spends his time daydreaming, and the fantastical world of the Easter Island candy factory. To imagine Easter World, the filmmakers recruited a team that was supervised by production designer RICHARD HOLLAND, with whom Hill had worked closely on Alvin and the Chipmunks. This candy factory run by the Easter Bunny is a world unlike anything ever imagined. An enormous factory that cranks out gumballs of every color and where colorful cascades of jelly beans crash as waterfalls, the Easter Bunny's warehouse creates treats for every person's palette. You'll find chicks and bunnies working together to monitor the production of marshmallow candies and conducting quality control on the vats of glistening milk chocolate in this wonder world of Easter.

On the night before Easter, the Easter Bunny loads these decadent treats into a large egg-shaped sleigh that's drawn by a team of flying chicks. Santa's more widely known reindeer-led sleigh was actually inspired by the Easter chicks. Only the one anointed Easter Bunny can navigate the dark, swirling vortex of rabbit holes to travel across the world in 24 hours.

Meledandri explains the look of Easter World: "When you approach one of the monolithic Easter Island heads, the mouth opens and an elevator appears. It transports you underground to our magnificent candy factory. Our team has designed an imaginative environment that will delight audiences of all ages: a production facility filled with chocolate, bunny mold-making machines and lots of Easter baskets being filled. You'll find candyfunneling machines, candy chutes and rabbitshaped ‘oil' rigs that pump chocolate. It's all being done by these hilarious little yellow chicks and adorable bunnies.”

Imperato Stabile shares how it's possible for this team to make this world look so incredibly detailed. "Tim and the animators have systematically and carefully created all the characters that live and work in this space…all digitally,” she relays. "They've painstakingly ensured that the clothing and the fur look real…but they're a bit exaggerated. They made them just a little bit bigger than normal sized rabbits and chicks so it's easier to s

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