Three days after a surprise Super Bowl teaser, the first proper trailer for Illumination Entertainment’s Minions: The Rise of Gru has landed in a blur of yellow.

The film is at once a prequel and a sequel. It follows on from 2015’s Minions, a spin-off from the Despicable Me trilogy (2010, 2013, 2017). In terms of narrative chronology, The Rise of Gru lands between them. If Minions revealed where the gibbering yellow henchmen came from, the new film appears to be an origin story for the titular villain who becomes their commander. As the title suggests, young Gru is at the center of the story, and the trailer introduces his antagonists, the supervillain group Vicious 6.

Kyle Balda, who co-directed Minions and Despicable Me 3, is promoted to lead director here, with Brad Ableson (who has worked as a storyboard and character layout artist on The Simpsons) and Jonathan del Val (co-director, The Secret Life of Pets 2) as his co-directors. Illumination’s founder and CEO Chris Meledandri is producing alongisde his longtime collaborators Janet Healy and Chris Renaud. Steve Carell and Pierre Coffin return to voice Gru and the Minions respectively, and Brian Lynch, who wrote the original Minions feature, is back to write this new film.

The announcement of this film in 2017 came as no surprise: the franchise has become the highest-grossing in history, bringing in over $3.7 billion at the global box office. Minions outperformed all the Despicable Me installments with a $1.16 billion cume, and currently stands as the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film of all time. The concept of Despicable Me was created by Sergio Pablos (who most recently directed his first feature Klaus at his Spain-based SPA Studios), though the Minion characters were developed later within Illumination.

Under Meledandri’s stewardship, Illumination — which is owned by Universal Pictures, a subsidiary of Comcast-NBCUniversal — has notched up a remarkable run of hits in its 13-year history. That said, the studio’s last release, The Secret Life of Pets 2, performed fairly poorly against expectations, grossing “only” $433 million — less than half its predecessor. This 2018 profile in Variety examines Meledandri’s business model, which involves budgets that are far smaller than, say, Pixar’s and Disney’s, but on a par with studios like Sony Pictures Animation and Blue Sky.

The voices of the Vicious 6 include Taraji P. Henson (Belle Bottom), Jean-Claude Van Damme (Jean Clawed), Lucy Lawless (Nunchuck), Dolph Lundgren (Svengeance), and Danny Trejo (Stronghold).

Minions: The Rise Of Gru will be released in the U.S. on July 3.

"Minions: The Rise of Gru" poster

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