Minions' charming evil fills cinemas
LOS ANGELES (AP):
Universal's Minions overran the box office over the weekend as audiences in the US and Canada shelled out an estimated US$115.2 million to see the evil-master-serving horde frolic on the big screen.
It was the second-biggest opening ever for an animated film and an easy win for the sidekicks, who took the spotlight after playing supporting roles in two previous Despicable Me movies. The bright, babbling baldies have become key characters in the franchise from Universal's Illumination Entertainment.
Directed by Peter Coffin, who co-directed both Despicable Me movies and voices the Minions, the movie easily beat Jurassic World, another Universal picture that grossed US$18.1 million in its fifth weekend after release, according to box office tracker Rentrak.
Disney's Inside Out ranked third with US$17.1 million in its fourth weekend.
Minions was a hit overseas as well, taking the number-one spot in 29 of the 30 other countries in which it debuted over the weekend, including Mexico, Russia, France and Venezuela. Internationally, the movie has grossed US$280.5 million so far.
"Given that they seek to work for the most evil people on the planet, they give off this incredible happiness," said Duncan Clark, Universal's president of international distribution. "I think the quality they're proving to have is a common denominator appeal across all cultures," he said.
Only DreamWorks Animation's Shrek The Third opened to a bigger gross in North America in 2007, with US$121.6 million, according to Rentrak. Minions beat out Disney's Toy Story 3, which took in US$110.3 million on its opening weekend in 2010.
Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak's senior media analyst, said the Minions captured most of the buzz among Despicable Me fans from the start.
"It's always been about these crazy, irreverent, funny characters," Dergarabedian said.
Other studios have created successful spin-offs, such as DreamWorks' Shrek side story from 2011, Puss in Boots. There are also the multi-layered spin-offs in Disney's Marvel universe, including Ant-Man, which opens next weekend.
"It seems like a foregone conclusion there will be more Minions because of the millions they made," Dergarabedian said.
Universal is planning to unleash Despicable Me 3 in the summer of 2017 and plans a gaggle of other films by Illumination Entertainment. Led by founder and CEO Chris Meledandri, the animated movie studio has become one of Hollywood's most successful.
Ahead of Minions, Universal showed a trailer from a release for next summer, The Secret Life of Pets, which explores what pets do when their owners leave them at home unattended. It's also planning to release a holiday 2017 version of Dr Seuss' Grinch.
Universal's domestic distribution president, Nicholas Carpou, credits Meledandri with creating movies whose outlandish characters are relatable.
"They're very heart-warming, they're very charming. You think of Gru (the villain from Despicable Me) - even a villain has a huge heart. I think we're seeing the results of that in the Minions right now," he said.
Other movies debuting in the Top 10 this past weekend was The Gallows, an ad-libbed high-school horror movie from Blumhouse Productions, the creator of the Paranormal Activity and Insidious franchises. There was also Self/less, a sci-fi thriller about a near-death billionaire who transmits himself into a younger body.
Following are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through yesterday at US and Canadian cinemas, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers are also included.
1. Minions, US$115.2m ($124.3m international).
2. Jurassic World, US$18.1m ($21.7m international).
3. Inside Out, US$17.1m (US$19.1m international).
4. Terminator Genisys, US$13.7m (US$47.3m international).
5. The Gallows, US$10 million (US$1.2m international).
6. Magic Mike XXL, US$9.6m ($10.3m international).
7. Ted 2, US$5.6m (US$12.2m international).
8. Self/less, US$5.4m (US$55,000 international).
9. Max, US$3.4
10. Spy, US$3m (US$1.7m international).