Saturday, July 11, 2015

'Minions' Opens Big, Could It Break That Record? [UPDATE]

As expected, Illumination's Despicable Me spin-off Minions is a massive hit already...

Now, I'll be honest, I had no idea it would be this big. My guess was that it would do very well, but it wouldn't be some record-breaking smash. In hindsight, perhaps that prediction was kind of... Well... Dumb. See, my guess was that Despicable Me peaked with the second film, and that Minions would land between the two at the domestic box office, grossing around $300 million or so.

Today, Minions has broken the opening day record for an animated film. $46 million estimated, $5 million higher than the previous record holder, Toy Story 3.

What Toy Story 3 surprisingly didn't do was break the opening weekend record for an animated film. That crown still belongs to Shrek the Third, which took in $38 million on its opening day in 2007 without the aid of 3D or IMAX. The opening weekend gross? $121 million. I should've known better. Like Shrek the Third, Minions was coming off of the wildly successful Despicable Me 2, which - like Shrek 2 - made a hell of a lot more than its predecessor did. And its predecessor, like Shrek, was a real sleeper hit sensation.

So basically Despicable Me is the new Shrek in terms of box office. The first one was something that seemed a bit unlikely, but really caught on and surprised people. The second one rode off of the goodwill of the first one and soared (Universal didn't call the film their most profitable film ever for nothing), now the third entry - a spin-off - will be the big goliath opener... So does that mean it'll have the weakest legs of the franchise?

Shrek the Third made 2.6x its huge opening weekend, showing that the film was both front loaded and that audiences weren't too big on it. Most animated films pull the good 3x multiplier, 3.5x most of the time. Minions, similarly, doesn't have the fresh scores on the review aggregator sites. A good chunk of the reviews have said it's dull, uneven, sporadically funny, etc.

Shrek and Shrek 2 got rave critical reception (why the second one got such good reviews is beyond me), and both had great legs at the box office. Rarely does a big opener have such great legs, Shrek 2 is one of those rare birds. People really liked it, and Despicable Me 2 also had a big opening, but its legs were no different from the first film's legs. Despicable Me is a phenomenon, that I think can't be denied. Minions are everywhere, to the point where it's nauseating.

So yes, I should've known better.

But does Minions break the record? Or does it land below Shrek the Third's $121 million opening weekend gross? It depends on what the audiences think. Better yet, how will it hold up?

Well, if Minions disappoints audiences, then the multiplier will be a far cry from the ones scored by the previous Despicable Me entries: 4.48x and 4.43x respectively. Not that it'll matter to Universal and Illumination, for the film only cost $75 million to make and is sure to make some serious bank overseas. It already has! Its barely out here and it has already doubled its budget! It's got $141 million in the overseas pocket so far! The last film made $602 million overseas alone, I can definitely see this passing that like lightning.

I think it'll definitely hit $1 billion at this rate, no matter how it does here. What I think it won't do is top Frozen, because Frozen was a juggernaut. Minions is that "must-see" film that everyone flocks to on the first week. Now Minions will have legs and traction, but Frozen was a beast of its own. I don't expect the giggly yellow creatures to take the crown from Anna and Elsa...

If Minions does break the opening weekend record, I reckon it won't hold that honor it for too long. Why's that?

Well... Think of what's coming out next summer...

A gang of animated fish is sure to make some serious waves at the box office in less than a year from now. Heck, given that this very film's predecessor made $867 million worldwide 12 years ago without the aid of 3D and IMAX, today's high ticket prices, and what not... It might have a shot at becoming the world's highest grossing animated film.

We're not there yet, though. Let's see how Illumination's latest plays out in the coming weeks. My prediction? Okay-to-good legs (something below 3.5x), massive overseas grosses, $1 billion, won't beat Frozen. We shall see...

What are your predictions?

UPDATE (Sunday 7/12)

It came close to breaking the record. $115 million, so it's the second biggest. Not bad. Despite mixed reviews, it holds an "A" CinemaScore, so the legs... I'm still thinking that they won't be anywhere near Despicable 1 & 2's legs. 3.5x maximum I think, which means it'll finish up with around $402 million domestically.

In other good news, Inside Out wasn't chewed up by Minions. Its drop wasn't dissimilar to last weekend's drop, and it now sits at $283 million. Even though I don't believe that animated films "cannibalize" each other at the box office, the now playing film does drop quite a bit when the newest one comes out, but I think that's due to the amount of screens it takes away from the previous film (plus those 3D screens) alongside the fact that the new picture is... Well... New. Not like people don't return to the previous one afterwards, they certainly do, as proven time and time again.

However, this is an excellent drop for Inside Out. It shows that the staying power is there, and that the film is going to be super leggy. $283 million is already 3.1x its $90 million opening, and that's four weeks in. Monsters University, which opened with around the same amount, made 3.2x its opening at the end of its run, settling for $268 million.

With that in mind, this is going to have a great run. Now that the yellow giggly creatures are out of the way, there's really nothing else ahead. Marvel's latest won't hurt it, August has small fare like The Shaun the Sheep Movie and the Weinstein butchering of Metegol, to say nothing of other blockbuster flicks. There's no direct family-friendly animated competition like Minions, and Minions didn't take a big chunk out of this film so... It's pretty much good to go.

How high does it go, is the real question. I think Toy Story 3 legs (3.7x, $333m finish) is the floor for this one. I can now see it scoring somewhere between 3.9x and 4.1x. Basically between $350-370 million. Surprises could happen, though...

Again, what are your predictions for Minions and Inside Out?

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