Last weekend, the United States of America became the United States of Minions.
NBCUniversal/Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru delivered the all-time biggest opening for the four-day Independence Day weekend, hauling an estimated $127.9 million. The previous record – $115.9 million – had been held since 2011 by Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Rise of Gru’s three-day total – $108.5 million – is also good enough for 9th-best all-time opening for an animated film. It also marks the second-best launch for Illumination, behind only the first Minions feature.
Internationally, the film showed strength too with $93.7M. Its worldwide total now stands at $221.6M. Top foreign openings were U.K. ($12.9M), Mexico ($12.4M), Germany ($4.8M), Spain ($3.6M), and Indonesia ($3.4M).
Hollywood animation executives are almost certainly breathing a sigh of relief today. That’s because for a brief moment it looked like families had grown so accustomed to streaming that they might not return to theaters for animation.
During the pandemic-era, many of the biggest would-be theatrical releases – Soul, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Vivo, Turning Red, Hotel Transylvania, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run – went straight to streaming/VOD, which many felt had conditioned audiences to expect animation only on the smallscreen. Then, when Pixar, the box office darling of the animation world, finally returned to theaters last month with Lightyear ad audiences didn’t show up, it became a real moment of concern for the industry.
Rise of Gru’s performance completely – and emphatically – changes the narrative. Audiences are still more than willing to pay for theatrical animation if it’s an animated film that they want to see, and right now, Illumination is the studio that is producing the films that audiences want to see on the bigscreen.
Meanwhile, Lightyear dropped to 6th place with an estimated $8.1M over the four-day and a $106.9M total. Its three-day gross – $6.5M – was a 64% decline from its previous weekend, which is a grim plunge for a Pixar film only in its third weekend. The film will now have to work hard to avoid the ignominious distinction of becoming the lowest-grossing (non-pandemic) Pixar film ever, a title that currently belongs to The Good Dinosaur ($123M).
A24’s stop-motion/live-action hybrid Marcel the Shell with Shoes On expanded from six to 22 theaters in its second weekend, grossing $310K. The film has yet to receive a single negative critical review on Rotten Tomatoes and remains the top-rated feature animation release of 2022. Its two-week total is $530.7K.