Families have come back to theaters! And kids have really just been waiting two years to see the new Minions movie. They certainly were not waiting for Lightyear. The weekend, not even factoring in the holiday, ranks as the 11th best in July ever and the 3rd best when the Fourth falls during the weekend or on a Monday.
After two years of languishing in pandemic delays, Universal ultimately unleashes Minions: The Rise of Gru upon its clearly adoring audience. The Despicable Me franchise has amounted to over $3.65 billion for the studio over four films. It will make it over $4 billion later this week, thanks to this sequel becoming the 10th fully animated film to open over $100 million, the eighth-best ever, between Toy Story 3 and Shrek 2. The first Minions film in 2015 opened to $115.7 million and made a franchise-best of $336 million domestic and $1.15 billion worldwide (the fourth-highest ever.) The Rise of Gru opened to $107 million and is expected to climb over $125 million through the Monday holiday. Not only is that more than double the quickly infamous Lightyear opening from two weeks ago, but the Minions have already outgrossed the Pixar movie in just four days.
This is just the shot in the arm that studios and theaters were hoping to see from a family-oriented film, given that the $100-191 million category in this group has been populated only by Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sing 2, and Lightyear since 2020. At the same time, these titles all fall into the same IP trend that has been dominating the box office since audiences started coming back. Adult and original films continue to struggle to make a serious dent, and Minions could be a fleeting bump before the demographic comes back to Earth again. July still has a pair of family titles in waiting with Paws of Fury and DC League of Super-Pets. The latter may find some decent The Bad Guys-to-Sing 2 range, but those Lightyear numbers may look less dour through the end of the year when the calendar only offers Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, and Disney’s Strange World, and Puss In Boots: The Last Wish.
That’s the potential bad news portion. The good news is that Minions: The Rise of Gru is here and it is currently gobbling up money. The average opening-to-final-gross multiple for animated films opening to over $100 million is a healthy 3.43, albeit with the 2015 Minions representing the second-lowest at 2.77. It seems unlikely Rise of Gru will drop so hard that it just barely gets over $300 million. On the other hand, a $375 million gross would make it Illumination Entertainment’s highest-grossing film to date, beating out The Secret Life of Pets ($368.3 million) and Despicable Me 2 ($367.9 million). That total would also be more than the two highest-grossing family films during the pandemic combined ($353.5 million). The next target is half a billion worldwide. As of this weekend, it stands at over $195 million, nearly halfway to the leaders of that category, which include Sonic, Sing, and Fantastic Beasts. Lightyear is only at $170 million.