Box Office: 'Minions' Dominates With $115.2 million Debut

Sun Jul 12, 2015 12:43pm EDT
 
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By Brent Lang

LOS ANGELES, (Variety.com) - "Minions" ruled the weekend box office, racking up a massive $115.2 million in North America, for the second biggest animated film opening in history.

The Universal and Illumination Entertainment spin-off to "Despicable Me" just missed the domestic record set by "Shrek the Third's" $121.6 million kickoff in 2007, while continuing animation maestro Chris Meledandri's hot streak at the multiplexes. What makes Meledandri so valuable to studios is that he keeps budgets low. "Minions" cost $74 million to produce, a modest number considering that Pixar and DreamWorks Animation routinely spend north of $100 million on their animated features.

"I'm not sure the public is mindful of what films cost, they're more concerned with how they resonate," said Nick Carpou, Universal's domestic distribution chief. "Chris is able to produce films that speak to families, to children, to people everywhere."

The studio left nothing to chance when it came to reminding moviegoers why the loved the nattering, mischievous, highlighter-hued critters. Universal partnered with the likes of Snapchat, McDonald's, and Amazon to deliver nearly $600 million in publicity and promotions, according to a recent article by Bloomberg. The titular characters were ubiquitous popping up on everything from Twinkies to Chiquita bananas.

Carpou said he was made aware of the Minions' cultural currency this weekend while on an outing to a mall. A store featuring plush toys prominently displayed the "Despicable Me" characters.

"They're everywhere, those yellow guys," he said. "In a way they exist in the culture without even having a film attached to them."

The opening weekend crowd for "Minions" was 59% female, 55% under the age of 25, and 60% comprised of families.

"With anything that opens to over $100 million, you breach all demographics," said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. "The Minions are the stars of the 'Despicable Me' franchise...kids love them, teens love them, and adults love them."   Continued...

 
Actress Sandra Bullock poses with characters in costume from the film during the "Minions" World Premiere at Leicester Square in London, Britain  June 11, 2015. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor