Despicable Me, the debut animation release from Illumination Entertainment, opened in America this past weekend to a huge .4 million, surpassing all expectations.

With international releases set to build up over the next few months, not to mention the subsequent home entertainment sales, it could end up as one of the biggest sleeper hits of the year, with a box office total to match.

It’s unsurprising to hear, then, that discussions on Despicable Me 2 have since been initiated. According to Deadline, Chris Meledandri, along with writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, are hard at work on the sequel to this unexpected hit film.

Universal, I’m sure, will be chomping at the bit to build on this momentum with Despicable Me 2, and there’s news of two new shorts based on the yellow tic-tac shaped Minions. Riding this wave, there are plans afoot to develop Ricky Gervais’s Flanimals as well as Dr Suess’s The Lorax and the eagerly awaited Addams Family animation which has Tim Burton’s name stitched into its fabric.

The success of Despicable Me is a sure sign of Universal’s first shot at competing with the animation heavyweights, Pixar and Dreamworks. Sony Pictures have tried, but none of their releases have received the same amount of adoration and box office clout films such as Up! and Shrek have enjoyed.

I, for one, can’t wait to see Despicable Me. Combing critics reaction with the love it’s attracting among American cinema-goers, it’s sure to be one of the best animation films of 2010.

Reported by Jamie Neish