Minions: Dominates Box-Office–Second Biggest Animated Opening in History

Minions dominated the weekend box office, racking up a massive $115.2 million in North America, for the second biggest animated film opening in history.  This is a remarkable achievement considering that its budget is modest, $74 million.

Audiences:  Young and More Female

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

The Universal and Illumination Entertainment spinoff to “Despicable Me” missed the domestic record set by “Shrek the Third’s” $121.6 million kickoff in 2007, while continuing animation master 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 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.”

“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.”

“Minions” debuted in 4,301 theaters.

“Minions” also took a chunk out of some of the turbo-charged blockbusters still kicking around cinemas. “Jurassic World” slid 54% to $18.1 million, bringing its Stateside haul to $590.6 million, while “Inside Out” dipped 43% to $17.1 million, pushing its domestic total to $283.6 million.

Universal is the leader in market share due to hits like “Pitch Perfect 2″ and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and has two films that have crossed $1 billion at the global box office with “Furious 7″ and “Jurassic World.”

“Minions” was such a success that it crashed two newcomers, “Self/Less” and “The Gallows.”

The Gallows

Warner release picked up $10 million, across 2,720 locations. The thriller based on found footage cost less than $2 million to make.

Entertainment 360 and Blumhouse Productions backed the picture about a high school play gone wrong.

The modestly priced film was an important showcase for writers and directors Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing.

“We’re cultivating young filmmakers and giving them a chance to grow and prosper,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner distribution exec vice president. “These are really sharp guys who have a long career in front of them.”


Focus Features’ Self/Less flopped, picking up roughly $5.4 million from 1,953 locations. The sci-fi thriller about a radical medical procedure is the latest fumble for Ryan Reynolds, who is still laboring to get out from under the massive failures of “The Green Lantern” and “R.I.P.D.”

A trailer for the actor’s lastes picture, Deadpool, his R-rated comic book adaptation, made a strong impress at Comic-Con this weekend.

“Self/Less” was produced for $26 million, partly financed by foreign pre-sales that limit Focus’ and co-backer Endgame’s financial exposure.

Overall ticket sales were robust, improving nearly 40% over the year-ago period when “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” kicked off with $72.6 million.