Minions debut takes over US box office | News Entertainment

Minions debut takes over US box office

13 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

Universal’s Minions overran the box office over the weekend as audiences in the US and Canada shelled out an estimated $115.2 million (Dh423.1 million) to see the evil-master-serving horde frolic on the big screen. 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.

“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. 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. Directed by Peter Coffin, who co-directed the Despicable Me 1 and 2 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.

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 Universal and Illumination Entertainment spinoff 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.

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. 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. The big opening for “Minions’” widens Universal Pictures’ lead in domestic box-office sales, and gives the Comcast Corp. film division the chance to claim the full-year title for the first time since at least 1998.

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. 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. 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. A store featuring plush toys prominently displayed the “Despicable Me” characters. “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” also enjoyed a sprawling rollout, debuting in 4,301 theaters.

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. The studio is the leader in market share thanks 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 behemoth that two newcomers, “Self/Less” and “The Gallows,” risked getting washed away.

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. Entertainment 360 and Blumhouse Productions backed the picture about a high school play gone terribly, terribly wrong…and not in that teenagers putting on “The Crucible” kind of way. Warner Bros. executives say the film is a modestly priced single, but 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 Bros. distribution executive vice president. “These are really sharp guys, who have a long career in front of them.” Focus Features’ “Self/Less” was not so fortunate, picking up roughly $5.4 million from 1,953 locations. 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.

Box office redemption may be nigh. “Self/Less” was produced for $26 million, but the blow is softened in part by foreign pre-sales that limited Focus’ and co-backer Endgame’s financial exposure. “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. 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.

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.

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