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Box Office Report

‘Despicable Me 3’ Takes Over As Top-Grossing Animated Feature Of 2017

Despicable Me 3, directed by Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin, breezed past The Boss Baby last weekend to become 2017’s highest-grossing animated release to date, both domestically and globally.

In the United States, DM3 has scored $188.4M over three weekends (to Boss Baby’s grand total of $174.2M). Globally, including the U.S. gross, DM3 has made out with $622.4M, compared to Boss Baby’s $497.5M.

While DM3 will be a money-maker for Universal, there is a sign of concern for the Illumination franchise. After 17 days at the domestic box office, DM3 not only trails the grosses of DM2 and Minions, it also trails Illumination’s last two original films, The Secret Life of Pets and Sing. At this rate, DM3 should end up earning well over 70% of its box office from overseas, a higher percentage than any previous Illumination film.

Here’s the reason that’s significant: generally when American audiences burn out on an animated franchise, the rest of the world follows suit. The pattern of a dwindling American percentage of overall box office leading to eventual disappointment is visible in Fox/Blue Sky’s Ice Age franchise, as well as Dreamworks Animation’s Madagascar and Shrek series. The last entry (either sequel or spin-off) in each of those series has been a box office weakling relative to the performance of the earlier films.

The decaying U.S. portion of box office should cause Universal some concern for the prospects of the next entry in the franchise, Minions 2, currently scheduled to debut in 2020. For now though, that won’t put a damper on DM3′s solid performance. Even if DM3 doesn’t have the box office draw of Minions, the film is still a blockbuster success. In fact, in what is turning out to be an off-year for feature animation, there’s a very strong possibility that DM3 will wind up as the highest-grossing animated feature of 2017.

  • Cameron Ward

    Personally, I think people are starting to wise up to Illumination. They have the same problem as Blue Sky, they have really amazing animation and it’s definitely no slacker in that department, or the celebrities they get.

    However, the problem is the fact their scripts and stories are the weakest part. They never use other screenwriters or directors outside their own circle of in house individuals. Sing was “fresh” since it had a different director, but still fell flat because no one really had a good or unpredictable story arc.

    They don’t want time wasters or style over substance animated films anymore. This will still make money there is no doubt about that, but they need to start doing more with their films and not just rely on there huge marketing campaign, which pretty much shows off the entire movie.

    How cool would it have been if there was more fleshed out development between Gru and Dru and how they are brothers and their life and relationship with their parents? That could have honestly been interesting.

    It’s just infuriating because they can be such a talented studio, but they aren’t improving on anything besides the animation.

    • Andres Molina

      If you check out that Sing review from I Hate Everything, he actually points that that Illumination’s goal is practically to squeeze out the most profit possible for every cent they put to produce their films. There’s a reason why Illumination’s films were made on squeezed $65-75 million. There’s a reason a Pixar film would cost around $170-200 million, because in the general case, Pixar puts in more resources and time to craft every single one of their films, which is why they end up with larger budgets. If Illumination are to put more effort in their films, or make an attempt to reach the levels of pixar, their budgets would increase into somewhere between $120-150 Million. In the end, its all business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make money AND be artistic.

    • Their priorities are to have a low budget, with a great return in the box office. It has been working for them for their films to where just pushing the animation is all their concerned. I’m sure they take pride in their storytelling, but I agree with you Cameron, their storytelling needs to be challenged and worked on more. They really could take over Pixar if they want to.

      • Cameron Ward

        oh I get WHY and how their film making works, I just think people are starting to catch onto their tactics. Doesn’t help either that the advertising made the film out that it WAS going to be about Gru AND Dru, but their chemistry on screen while fine, is not great.

        Trey Parker saves the film, but even he isn’t in the film a lot. His character could have been interesting if they went in the right direction of the child star turned villain angle. Like, Illumination and Universal are not dumb, they know what they are doing, but it’s getting so annoying to sit through an Illumination film and not really love it. I want to, but I can’t since they don’t put the effort into making their films nothing more than “above average” or “good enough”

        If they aren’t careful, their current strategy is not going to work and I don’t want anything bad to happen to the people that work there, but they need to start making movies that are legit 100% objectively good or more ambitious than simply simple ideas executed with only the bare minimum of effort.

  • chris padilla

    It would be interesting to see how the reviews for each movie in each franchise did at Rotten Tomatoes – it would certainly underline your points if was there a decline with each movie.

  • Considering how huge the DM franchise is, this isn’t that surprising. But I thought Cars 3 would have done better than it did, along with a few other animated films. At this point, I think only Coco has a change to beat DM3.

  • Tre

    I went in to DM3 with a plot line in mind, and was relieved to find it didn’t go the way I’d predicted. I didn’t particularly enjoy Minions all that much so a sequel to that doesn’t interest me.

    I really want Illumination to do well when they go beyond the DM franchise, but as you say, like Blue Sky, they’ve got that 1 franchise that did well for them so they’ll possibly milk that for all it’s worth. Although if Blue did another Peanuts movie, I certainly wouldn’t be complaining.

  • bloodmando

    Comcast owner of Universal Pictures/Illumination seem to want more from the Despicable Me franchise with Minions 2 out in 2020. In the meantime I think it should clock out at $950 million (more or less).

  • KW

    I dont think i’ll ever be able to wrap my head around why Despicable Me is such a popular series. Its not bad, but it doesnt feel like it should be as popular as it is.

  • I’m not surprised. The Despicable Me franchise has won over audiences with the help of the Minions, so any time they show up, it’s an automatic winner. But also, this year in animated films has been kind of a lackluster. The only animated film I saw in theaters that won me over was ‘Your Name’. Everything else I have seen just seemed ok.

  • Dman

    This is maybe the worst year we’ve had in animation in a long time. I feel all the major studios really dropped the ball. I thought Boss Baby and Captain Underpants were at best mediocre, Cars 3 felt tired and Despicable Me 3 was kind of unwatchable. Not to say anything about Smurfs (which I opted out of seeing) and upcoming movies like the Nut Job 2 and the Emoji Movie. Ughhh. And it does definitely look like DM3 will be the highest grossing animated movie of the year; I see it topping out around where Pets did in the high $800 million range. I just hope that Coco can save the year, but I’m doubtful.

    • GW

      One of the films I’m most looking forward to is Animal Crackers. They better release a trailer for that film soon if they want anyone to see it. Beast of Burden is also on my list but who knows when that will be released. I watched Your Name, and like I’ve said before, the plot was good but not the character animation. My Life as a Zucchini was good as well if you haven’t seen it. I saw the English dubbed version. I have to agree that it’s not a good year overall for animated features. But I’ve enjoyed enough animated television series that it’s not as big a deal to me as it otherwise would be.