Universal’s Minions Revive Box Office
By John Hamann
July 12, 2015
After the box office collapsed last weekend, I thought nothing could bring it back. Obviously, I underestimated the Minions.
Universal’s awesome roll continues this weekend, as the little yellow Despicable Me characters didn’t do a Penguins of Madagascar. Instead, they were triumphant, lording over the box office like few animated characters ever have. Minions are everywhere in pop culture, from major league baseball to Comic-Con to McDonald’s, where they were accused of swearing in their gibberish language. The wannabe evil creatures crept into everything and obviously slinked into the collective zeitgeist, given their movie's box office performance this weekend. There were other openers as well. Cheapie The Gallows debuted, and the countdown continues until Jason Blum is out of business. We can also keep tracking the countdown on the career of Ryan Reynolds, as he had another flop this weekend with Self/less, which was doomed with that title.
We are all about the Minions this weekend, as the little yellow babblers blew up the frame, giving Universal another assault on the box office record book. It all started Thursday night, when Minions managed a Thursday preview amount of $6.2 million. At the time, I didn’t think too much of this debut; sure, it was solid, but Thursday screenings started at 6 p.m., easily giving it three screenings before Thursday turned into Friday. It was the Friday amount that boggled the mind, coming in at $40 million, or $46.2 million with the preview amounts included. That’s the 23rd biggest day ever, and the biggest opening day ever for an animated film, coming in $5 million higher than Toy Story 3. It missed the animated single day record by about a million, coming in just behind Shrek the Third’s first Saturday at $47.1 million. Minions were on fire, almost achieving half the tracking estimate of $100 million on opening day.
While not a direct sequel, awareness of the Minions was extremely high thanks to another highly effective marketing campaign from Universal and two very successful Despicable Me movies. The first flick with Gru and the girls earned $250 million domestically and $563 million worldwide against a budget of only $69 million. The second, which cost only $7 million more, earned $368 million domestically, and just short of a billion worldwide. Even without Despicable Me in the title, Minions had a strong base to build upon, and build they did.
Minions ended up with a massive weekend estimate of $115.2 million, giving Universal three films opening above the century mark this year. Minions was able to pass Pixar’s biggest opening, Toy Story 3, which opened to $110 million, and Shrek 2, which debuted to $108 million. Shrek the Third, the animated realm’s biggest opener at $121.6 million does manage to retain the record, though. The best news of all for Universal is the cost of the film. Minions cost just $75 million to make, so it is certain to be a profitable venture just from theatrical revenue alone.