For Universal and Illumination, patience proved to be a huge virtue.
Originally set for release two years ago, Minions: The Rise of Gru absolutely shattered expectations this weekend, delivering the best Fourth of July holiday ever, Deadline is reporting. With an estimated $125 million take over four days (five if you count Thursday afternoon previews), it was the biggest debut for an animated movie since 2019’s Frozen II. It’s worth noting that only a week ago, Minions was tracking for a premiere of $65-$75 million. The actual figures ended up nearly doubling that.
What went right here? For one thing, Universal resisted the urge to send Gru and his yellow friends straight to streaming as they did with other would-be blockbusters. They waited–a long time–and the results paid off. Minions is officially the last “leftover” that was initially set to open in 2020, following the also extremely successful performance of Top Gun: Maverick earlier this summer (and that film is still bringing in the dough). Minions also proves that there is plenty of life left in this franchise, after Despicable Me 3 didn’t quite live up to expectations in 2017.
There were also headlines made by teenagers going to the film based off of a viral TikTok meme that showed young men dressed in suits and scarves pretending the movie was a formal event, something THR suspects might’ve impacted ticket sales in positive way. Universal themselves took notice, even going so far as to endorse the “Gentleminions” gag on their official social media accounts.
Sadly for Pixar, the same success hasn’t applied to Lightyear, which continued its downward spiral despite mostly positive reviews and word-of-mouth. Much has been written about what exactly went wrong here, but with a $200 million budget, Disney was clearly hoping to start a new “franchise-within-a-franchise” here. That won’t happen now, but Lightyear could still be a hit for them on Disney+ when it lands there in about a month. So far, the movie has a take of $107 million, which normally wouldn’t be anything to roll eyes over, except that the expectations here were much higher than what has ultimately happened.
Final figures are due tomorrow.