Universal has finally decided that it's time to bring some of their attention to producing family films. Variety pointed out that Universal Pictures has not released a film devoted to a family audience or even an animated film -- rather, a successful animated film -- in a very long time. Their last attempt at releasing an animated feature was last February with Curious George, which received less than perfect reviews and brought in a meager $69 million in box office sales -- just above its production costs. Chris Meledandri plans to change all of that with one great and still unnamed plan.

Meledandri is lobbying to create a 'new unit' at Universal Pictures that "will produce both animated and live-action pics that U will distribute worldwide under an exclusive five-year agreement." This new branch at Universal is much needed since they have been out of the CGI competition with other studios -- Dreamworks and Pixar to name a few -- and have a theme park that relies on attracting families for its admission.

How many films can we expect from the new family-oriented animation and live-action branch of Universal? Meledandri is expecting to release its first feature in 2009 and is predicting the release of about three films per year. It also seems that Meledandri is the right man for the job; he's responsible for the success of Fox's Blue Sky Studios and its release of films such as Ice Age and Robots; he is also currently working on The Simpsons Movie which is currently wrapping up production for a release this summer. Should Pixar and Dreamworks be shaking in their boots over their new competition? With Meledandri's resumé they should at least be shaking a little, but they may be shaking a lot when Universal announces what exactly is in the works for 2009.