despicable_me_2Universal Pictures has announced dates on three upcoming high-profile projects and it means more Minions on the menu, along with a big helping of Grinch: the third installment of its incredibly successful animated franchise Despicable Me 3, and a “newly imagined” version of Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and a new – wait, let’s read that again – an untitled animated comedy from Despicable Me makers Illumination Entertainment that says its “an original … project 2,” whatever that means.

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Anyway, Gru, Lucy, the girls and the minions are coming back to a megaplex near you — in 3 1/2 years. Universal today announced a June 30, 2017, date for Despicable Me 3, the follow-up to last year’s first sequel, which has grossed $935.8M worldwide and just opened in it last territory, China. The studio also revealed dates for two other Illumination Entertainment toons: a new version of Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (November 17, 2017) and Untitled Illumination Project 2016 2 (December 21, 2016).

Today’s announcements set up a couple of potentially interesting box office battles — if all the dates hold. But it’s a big if. DM3’s release is set for two weeks after both Disney/Pixar and Fox/DWA/Blue Sky have untitled projects set for release (June 16, 2017). Also, Grinch is set for five days before the bow of an untitled Pixar toon.

How-the-Grinch-Stole-Christmas-christmas-movies-17366305-1067-800Universal and director Ron Howard previously brought a live-action version of Dr. Seuss’ classic Christmas tale to life in 2000 with star Jim Carrey. Director Chuck Jones’ original animated TV cartoon produced in 1966 remains a holiday staple. The new animated Grinch will be produced Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy (exec produced by Audrey Geisel, the 90-year-old widow of the late Dr. Seuss himself, the beloved author Theodor Geisel). The picture will be directed by Pete Candeland from an adaptation by Michael LeSieur (You, Me and Dupree). Candeland’s credits include All Dogs Go To Heaven 2 and Harmonix: The Beatles — Rock Band. Hope these guys can pull off a good Grinch.

Meanwhile, that untitled Illumination pic, which opens the Wednesday before Christmas 2016, is an animated comedy from Meledandri and Healey about “courage, competition and carrying a tune.” It will be written and directed by Garth Jennings (Son of Rambow, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

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