Illumination, Universal Pictures and Variety — the Children’s Charity Partner to Raise Money for Kids with Special Abilities through exclusive “MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU” Gold Heat Campaign

Gold Heart Pins will help fund life-changing Variety programs for children globally

LOS ANGELES, CA (DATE)  – Illumination and Universal Pictures have collaborated with Variety – the Children’s Charity to create a limited-edition gold heart pin featuring a new character from Illumination’s global blockbuster comedy, Minions: The Rise of Gru, which opened at a record-shattering #1 in the U.S. and worldwide and is in theaters now. The exclusive limited-edition collector’s pin featuring the unforgettable new Minion, Otto, who sports braces and is always eager to help, will be available for a minimum donation of $3.00 in movie theatres throughout the US and in many countries around the world.  A full list of participating theatre locations in the US can be found on and participating international countries at    

Proceeds from the limited-edition Minions pins benefit Variety programs that provide life-changing equipment, services and experiences to children who live with special needs or who are disadvantaged. 

“Many families cannot afford the much-needed treatments, equipment and physical therapy sessions required for their children to enjoy an improved quality of life,” said Nancy Klueter, President of Variety – the Children’s Charity International.  “Each and every person who supports our 31st annual Gold Heart campaign, will know that they are positively impacting the thousands of children and their families Variety assists each and every year. We give thanks to our wonderful friends at Illumination and Universal Pictures for making this special fundraising initiative possible.”  

Illumination’s Despicable Me franchise, which includes Minions, is the most successful animated franchise in cinematic history, beloved by audiences of all ages around the globe. Illumination and Universal Pictures are proud to support Variety-The Children’s Charity in its vital and invaluable campaign.

“Variety – the Children’s Charity is amazed with the support received by Illumination and Universal through their blockbuster Minions franchise,” said Variety USA president Roland Acosta. “Many children around the world will be positively impacted with the success of this program.  We are forever grateful.”

About Variety – the Children’s Charity

Variety – the Children’s Charity has a 94-year legacy of caring for children across the globe when family income, insurance, and the government cannot.  Since its founding in 1928, Variety has grown to 40 chapters throughout the world and raised more than $1 billion to assist the treatment and care of children who have a disability or are disadvantaged. Through direct grants and programs, Variety provides the gifts of independence, self-esteem, mobility and communication; survival, recovery, well-being and health; and education, confidence and achievement for children who have a disability or are disadvantaged.

About Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru

This summer, from the biggest global animated franchise in history, comes #1 blockbuster comedy of the summer, the origin story of how the world’s greatest supervillain first met his iconic Minions, forged cinema’s most despicable crew and faced off against the most unstoppable criminal force ever assembled in Minions: The Rise of Gru.

Long before he becomes the master of evil, Gru (Oscar® nominee Steve Carell) is just a 11 ¾ -year-old boy in 1970s suburbia, plotting to take over the world from his basement. It’s not going particularly well. When Gru crosses paths with the Minions, including Kevin, Stuart, Bob, and Otto—a new Minion sporting braces and a desperate need to please—this unexpected family joins forces. Together, they build their first lair, design their first weapons, and strive to execute their first missions.

When the infamous supervillain supergroup, the Vicious 6, oust their leader—legendary martial arts fighter Wild Knuckles (Oscar® winner Alan Arkin)— Gru, their most devoted fanboy, interviews to become their newest member. The Vicious 6 is not impressed by the diminutive, wannabe villain, but then Gru outsmarts (and enrages) them, and he suddenly finds himself the mortal enemy of the apex of evil. With Gru on the run, the Minions attempt to master the art of kung fu to help save him, and Gru discovers that even the most despicable need a little help from their friends. 

Featuring more spectacular action than any film in Illumination history and packed with the franchise’s signature subversive humor, Minions: The Rise of Gru stars a thrilling new cast, including, the Vicious 6: Taraji P. Henson as cool and confident leader Belle Bottom, whose chain belt doubles as a lethal disco-ball mace; Jean-Claude Van Damme as the nihilistic Jean Clawed, who’s armed (literally) with a giant robotic claw; Lucy Lawless as Nun-chuck, whose traditional nun’s habit hides her deadly nun-chucks; Dolph Lundgren as Swedish roller-skate champion Svengeance, who dispenses his enemies with spin kicks from his spiked skates; and Danny Trejo as Stronghold, whose giant iron hands are both a menace to others and a burden to him. 

The film also stars Russell Brand as Young Dr. Nefario, an aspiring mad scientist, Michelle Yeoh as Master Chow, an acupuncturist with mad kung fu skills, and Oscar® winner Julie Andrews as Gru’s maddeningly self-absorbed mom.

Steered by the franchise’s original creators, Minions: The Rise of Gru is produced by visionary Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri and his longtime collaborators Janet Healy and Chris Renaud. The film is directed by returning franchise filmmaker Kyle Balda (Despicable Me 3Minions), co-directed by Brad Ableson (The Simpsons) and Jonathan del Val (The Secret Life of Pets films), and features the iconic voice of Pierre Coffin as the Minions and a killer ’70s soundtrack courtesy of legendary Grammy-winning music producer Jack Antonoff.

About Illumination

Illumination, founded by Academy Award® nominee Chris Meledandri in 2007, is one of the entertainment industry’s leading producers of event-animated films, including Despicable Me, the most successful animated franchise in cinematic history.  The company’s releases include two of the top 10 animated films of all time, and its iconic, beloved franchises—infused with memorable and distinct characters, global appeal and cultural relevance—have grossed more than $6.6 billion worldwide.

Illumination, which has an exclusive financing and distribution partnership with Universal Pictures, is the creator of the world of Despicable Me. The franchise includes Minions, the fourth-highest-grossing animated film of all time and the most profitable film in Universal’s history, as well as the Academy Award®– nominated Despicable Me 2 and Despicable Me 3, which made more than $1 billion at the global box office. The franchise’s most recent film, Minions: The Rise of Gru, shattered box office records with the highest-grossing July 4th opening weekend in U.S. history and became the #1 film internationally and worldwide. 

Illumination has launched two additional original franchises that have captivated audiences worldwide. The first Secret Life of Pets film achieved the best opening for an original movie, animated or otherwise, in U.S. history, and the studio followed that success in 2019 with The Secret Life of Pets 2. Illumination’s smash hit, Sing, has now became the studio’s latest global franchise with Sing 2 in December 2021. In addition, Illumination’s Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch continues to hold the record for the biggest opening weekend of any Christmas-themed movie in history. Illumination’s upcoming films include the new Super Mario Bros. film in April 2023 and Migration in December 2023.

About Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios (  Universal Studios is part of NBCUniversal.  NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience.  NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks.  NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

Media contact:

Variety International: Howard Blank 1 604 928 6066  [email protected]

Variety USA: Erica Lopez 1-323-954-0820 [email protected]