‘Minions’ box office: $115.2 million. What’s driving the appeal? (+video) | News Entertainment

‘Minions’ box office: $115.2 million. What’s driving the appeal? (+video)

13 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Minions’ swarms box office with $115.2M haul.

LOS ANGELES — Minions, which this weekend scored the second biggest opening ever for an animated feature, is just the latest hit from Universal Pictures in a year that has overflowed with breakouts and blockbusters.“Minions,” the movie about goggle-wearing yellow creatures, captured the box office this weekend in the second-biggest animated-film debut ever, boosting Universal Pictures’ lead in Hollywood.It is the best opening yet for the hugely successful “Despicable Me” franchise, following an ubiquitous marketing effort that blanketed billboards, McDonald’s meals and Amazon.com Inc.

Thanks to the Despicable Me spinoff, Pitch Perfect 2 and Jurassic World, Universal tops all of its rivals in terms of market share, and is likely to be the first studio in history to field three films that top US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) globally in a single year. The prequel to the “Despicable Me” animated series collected $115.2 million in weekend ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada, researcher Rentrak Corp. said Sunday in an e-mailed statement. AMZN 2.10 % packages. “Minions” was followed by summer box-office mainstays “Jurassic World,” which grossed an estimated $18.1 million for a total of $590.7 million, and “Inside Out,” which added $17.1 million to its haul of $283.6 million.

The studio’s remarkable run is in marked contrast to five years ago, when Universal was mired in last place among the six major Hollywood players, weighed down by costly disappointments such as The Green Zone and Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Minions’ opening weekend haul was the second highest animated opening of all time, behind only 2007’s Shrek The Third, which made $121.6million in one weekend. Its hard climb back to the top is a reminder that, just as Nathaniel Hawthorne famously said of American families, studios are always rising and falling in Hollywood. 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 $18.1 million in its fifth weekend after release, according to box office tracker Rentrak. “Minions” was a hit overseas as well, taking the No. 1 spot in 29 of the 30 other countries in which it debuted over the weekend, including Mexico, Russia, France and Venezuela. CMCSA 1.90 % ’s Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment, is an origin story of the yellow creatures, and follows their recruitment to help a villain try to take over the world.

Going into 2015, most analysts believed the big story would be Disney, which finally would see major releases from each of its three Tiffany brands – Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. One possible threat to its dominance is Walt Disney Co.’s Dec. 18 release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” though much of that film’s revenue will be collected in 2016. “Universal delivered to the audience exactly what they wanted: More minions,” Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak senior media analyst, said by phone Sunday. “Every time the ‘‘Despicable Me’’ movies were in theaters, everyone was talking about the minions.” Universal Pictures mounted an extraordinary publicity campaign for the film, enlisting sponsors that included Amazon.com Inc., General Mills Inc., McDonald’s Corp., parent Comcast and Snapchat Inc. The spin off becomes the fourth film to break the $100million barrier this year, and the third from Universal’s stable, after Jurassic World and Furious 7; Disney had the other with Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Other studios have created successful spinoffs, such as DreamWorks’ “Shrek” side story from 2011, “Puss in Boots.” There are also the multi-layered spinoffs in Disney’s Marvel universe, including “Ant-Man,” which opens next weekend. Products such as Amazon boxes, Chiquita bananas, McDonald’s Happy Meals and even Tic Tacs themselves have all been overrun by the little yellow henchmen, while virtually every single billboard in the greater Los Angeles area has been bought out by the studio. Some of it’s kismet, but a lot of it is strategic.” One of the most impressive things about Universal’s year is that in an era dominated by costumed avengers, the studio achieved record-breaking results without having a major superhero franchise to its name. In this latest outing for the capsule-shaped characters, Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment tracks the creation of minions from the beginning of time. The film stars Sandra Bullock, John Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Geoffrey Rush and Jennifer Saunders, with Steve Carrell reprising his role as a young Gru.

In fact, Universal, perhaps not by choice, has largely ceded the comic-book movie-making to Disney and Warner Bros, which boast the Marvel and DC Comics libraries, respectively. “The fact that Universal has done this outside of superhero movies is a unique accomplishment, because at some point superheroes will fade into the sunset and Hollywood will need to find another cash cow,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. Universal’s successes show that there are alternatives out there for studios not looking to raid the outer recesses of the graphic novel and comic-book world in the hopes of competing. 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. Moreover, Universal has wisely mixed in other types of movies, such as erotic bestseller adaptation Fifty Shades of Grey and rap biopic Straight Outta Compton to augment its tentpole releases.

The film also features the voices of Michael Keaton and Jon Hamm. “Shrek the Third” remains the biggest animated debut in North America, generating $121.6 million for Paramount in its 2007 opening weekend, according to Rentrak. “Minions” stole the second spot from “Toy Story 3,” which collected $110.3 million on its first weekend in 2010. Universal has several projects lined up with Illumination, which continues to be a crucial moneymaking partner for the studio even as the overall animation field becomes more competitive than ever.

It has also bolstered its animated offerings by aligning itself with Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment, the company behind Minions. “You don’t want to have all of one type of film or it creates a bit of fatigue,” notes Nick Carpou, Universal’s domestic distribution chief. “We knew we had so many times at bat and we wanted to create as many diverse opportunities as we could.” He notes that the packed slate was accidental. Other movies debuting in the Top 10 this past weekend were “The Gallows,” an ad-libbed high-school horror movie from Blumhouse Productions, the creator of the “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious” franchises, and “Self/less,” a sci-fi thriller about a near-death billionaire who transmits himself into a younger body. It had a budget of $74 million, according to the studio. “It’s not whether this prequel can mint money; that’s a given,” Peter Travers wrote in Rolling Stone. “The question is: Can the minions carry a movie all by their mischievous mini-selves? ’Fraid not.” Warner Bros.’ “The Gallows,” another horror film offering this year from producer Jason Blum, opened in fifth place.

Ted 2 left audiences cold, and it’s unlikely that Blackhat and Seventh Son, two bombs the studio distributed for its financial partner Legendary, will be featured in any sizzle reels going forward. Directed by Tarsem Singh, whose credits include “The Cell,” the film tells the story of Damian, played by Ben Kingsley as a rich industrialist in his 60s dying of cancer. The swap has a cost however, and not just financial, as he has to fight for survival. “The elaborately convoluted, soul-swapping thriller ‘Self/Less’ squanders its intriguing premise with a loud and labored beat-the-bad-guys trajectory,” Gary Goldstein wrote in the Los Angeles Times. “Self/Less” was forecast to collect $3.8 million by Boxoffice.com. Universal managed to find the right tone in its black and white posters and promotional materials, promising fans a last ride with a star they loved and making a movie about driving fast with no repercussions – a moving testament to a man who, after all, died in a racing accident. “They’ve taken already strong titles and nurtured them in a way that allowed them to shatter expectations,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst of BoxOffice.com. “Look at what they do on Facebook and Twitter.

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