“Despicable Me 4” director on aging characters and the future of the animated franchise

“Despicable Me 4” director on aging characters and the future of the animated franchise

Plus, how the series draws parallels to James Bond and "The Simpsons."

The Despicable Me franchise, which launched in 2010, has now spawned three sequels, two spin-off prequels, and enough cume at the box office to name it the highest-grossing animated film franchise of all time — and there's no indication that it's stopping any time soon.

Despicable Me 4 just hit theaters, and early estimates say the film could amass between $110-120 million at the domestic box office this weekend alone. More sequels seem inevitable.

While there are no concrete plans to announce, the fourth film's co-director and franchise mainstay Chris Renaud tells Entertainment Weekly "there's a couple of things that have been discussed."

"I think that the world of the characters lends itself to multiple stories because they're human, they're very relatable," he says. "I think if you have animals or mystical creatures, it can be a bit more limiting because there's only a certain amount of things you can really dive into. And certain things, whether it's really breaking the format and saying, 'Hey, we're going to be 50 years in the future,' there's definitely still opportunities."

<p>Universal Pictures</p> Mega Minions in 'Despicable Me 4'

Universal Pictures

Mega Minions in 'Despicable Me 4'

Related: Despicable Me 4 director on why the new Mega Minions were inspired by Fantastic Four

Renaud likens the animated franchise — which always follows reformed supervillain Gru (Steve Carell), his ever-growing family, and gaggle of yellow-colored Minions as they seek to take down whichever new baddie stands in their way — to the James Bond films. "Just to keep that character going, essentially, the way Bond operates is what villain is he up against," says Renaud. "And there's an element of that here with Gru, like, okay, who's somebody fun like [Despicable Me 4 villain, voiced by Will Ferrell] Maxime, and what's a new family dynamic that we can put him up against?"

Renaud, who co-directed the first two films in the franchise and executive-produced the third, also compares the franchise to another enormously popular animated series. "It's not quite the same, but it's a little bit like The Simpsons where they're in all kinds of scenarios, but they never change. You know what I mean? And obviously they've gotten quite a lot out of that, so this doesn't quite operate exactly the same way, but it's in an animated world, so you have a few more liberties."

<p>Splash News Online/Shutterstock</p> Chris Renaud at 'Despicable Me 4' New York premiere

Splash News Online/Shutterstock

Chris Renaud at 'Despicable Me 4' New York premiere

Related: How to watch the Despicable Me movies in order

He's talking specifically about the decision to not age the characters, in particular Gru's kids, but he clarifies that though that decision was made for the fourth film, the creative team is not opposed to changing that in the future. "We have so many characters at this point in this world that, again, decisions have to be made. So aging them up in this particular film, then it becomes even more of an unanswered question as to what's going on in their lives," Renaud explains. "But I don't think that precludes us from doing something where we set a movie 20 years in the future and say, oh my gosh, Gru Jr. and Edith have now inherited dad's villain business, or whatever. I think we can go anywhere we want."

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Despicable Me 4, which also features the vocal talents of Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Joey King, Stephen Colbert, Sofía Vergara and more, is now playing in theaters.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.