“Minions” Earn $115 Million At Box Office

13 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Minions’ dominates with $115.2 million debut.

The Universal and Illumination Entertainment spin-off 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.LOS ANGELES, (Variety.com) – “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.They may be bumbling sidekicks, but the Minions proved that they can rule the box office all on their own: The Despicable Me prequel debuted to an estimated $115.2 million this weekend, giving them the second-biggest animated opening of all time.

What makes Meledandri so valuable to studios is that he keeps budgets low. 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. That number doesn’t account for inflation, but it still means that Minions is only the fourth animated film ever to make more than $100 million in its first weekend. 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. 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.

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. 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. And although it fell short of the biggest animated opening ever, Minions did score the biggest animated opening day ever with $46.2 million on Friday, bestingToy Story 3’s $41.7 million record. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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. Even more impressively, three of those four have been from Universal. (Furious 7 and Jurassic World are both Universal films, and Avengers: Age of Ultron was released by Disney.) The only other big openings this weekend were horror flick The Gallows and sci-fi thriller Self/Less. 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 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’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. After Inside Out snapped Jurassic World’s winning streak last weekend, the dinosaurs pulled ahead again this weekend, snagging second place with $18.1 million to Inside Out’s $17.1 million. 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.

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.” 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. The science-fiction thriller about a radical medical procedure is the latest film fumble for Ryan Reynolds, who is still laboring to get out from under the massive flops that were “The Green Lantern” and “R.I.P.D.” The good news for the actor is that a trailer for “Deadpool,” his upcoming R-rated comic book adaptation, rocked the Comic-Con crowd.

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. 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. 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 studio has avoiding clustering all of its major releases in the summer blockbuster season, preferring to drop films like Fifty Shades and Furious 7 in the winter and the spring when competition is less pitched. 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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