“I can tell you this, the overall music budget is three to four times larger than the largest music budget I’ve ever had previously,” says Illumination Entertainment CEO and producer Chris Meledandri, stopping by Deadline’s the Contenders event today at the DGA Theatre to represent Illumination and Universal Pictures’ Sing.

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Deadline

Director Garth Jennings’ first foray into the vibrant world of animation, which premiered in a rough cut at the Toronto Film Festival, the December animated release stars Matthew McConaughey as Buster Moon, a show biz koala who produces a singing competition as a last-ditch effort to save his ailing theater.

Like Damien Chazelle’s La La LandSing is a beautiful, entertaining and engaging tip of the hat to the entertainment industry and those artists who delight us with their visions—here represented by a cast of quirky animals.

Before delving into Sing and its 65 music clearances, Meledandri addressed the spectacular success of Illumination’s other 2016 release The Secret Life of Pets. “It was quite amazing because the film was distinguished by having the largest opening of any original movie, live action or animated, domestically, ever,” he explained. “I think it’s a tribute to the appeal of the characters, the idea, and also just phenomenal marketing from our partners at Universal.”

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Universal/Illumination Entertainment

Returning to the subject of music rights, Meledandri told moderator Pete Hammond of Deadline, “It’s a big number [of tracks]. And it was a big effort, a big undertaking. It was almost like a production within a production.”

“One of the things you’ll see in the film is that many of the songs have unique interpretations, and all our cast did their singing,” he added, speaking to the originality and novelty of Jennings’ approach with the film. “There’s only one of our cast that’s a professional singer, and that’s Tori Kelly.”

Boasting an A-list roster of talent lending voices to the project, Sing also stars Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly and Taron Egerton.

For Sing, the curtains rise nationwide on December 21.