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SYFY WIRE Box Office

'Minions: The Rise of Gru' sets dastardly new July 4th box office record with $125 million opening

The Despicable Me franchise hasn't lost any of its ability to dominate the box office.

By Josh Weiss
Minions The Rise Of Gru

Despite a five-year hiatus away from the big screen, the Despicable Me franchise hasn't lost any of its ability to dominate the box office (as well as the world). The latest entry in the animated series hailing from Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures — Minions: The Rise of Gru — set a new Fourth of July weekend record with an impressive debut of $125 million in North America. This figure is also the biggest financial bow of any single entry in the franchise, though it should be noted that the first Minions movie, which hit theaters in July of 2015, still maintains the largest traditional weekend debut for the 12-year-old property. 

Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon held the previous Fourth of July record after an opening of just over $115 million across the four-day period back in 2011. Globally speaking, the second chapter in the fan favorite Minions saga hit $200 million in worldwide ticket sales by Monday.

"A perfectly executed marketing and distribution plan delivered a fantastic holiday weekend for those silly, crazy Minions and proved in the process that family films can indeed draw huge numbers of people to the multiplex," Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at Comscore, tells SYFY WIRE. "A clear marketing message that hammered home the fact that Minions: The Rise of Gru was a theatrical exclusive release — plus pent-up demand by families and kids for a fun day at the movie theater — created this great result. In addition, the value proposition for many families of taking a short road trip to their local theater vs. a vacation or many other outside-of-the-home group activities (like theme parks, concerts, or sporting events) is undeniable, and certainly factored into the decision-making process for parents."

"This is a tremendous win for Universal and Illumination's commitment to theaters, and yet another signal that moviegoing is back with a bright future ahead," adds Shawn Robbins, Chief Analyst at Boxoffice Pro. "Many franchises struggle to maintain peak performance after five movies but Minions: The Rise of Gru is riding a wave of pent-up demand for a family outing at the theater while proving the loveable characters' enduring, comedic appeal across all ages."

Serving as a direct sequel to 2015's Minions (the fourth highest-grossing animated feature of all time), The Rise of Gru was co-directed by the trio of Kyle Balda (MinionsDespicable Me 3), Brad Ableson (The Simpsons), and Jonathan del Val (The Secret Life of Pets 2). Illumination founder/CEO Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy, and Chris Renaud produced the project, which takes place in the 1970s and shines a spotlight on Gru's boyhood ambition to become the world's greatest super-villain.

With the help of his diminutive, gibberish-speaking, and banana-loving underlings (all of them played by Pierre Coffin), the 12-year-old mastermind (once again voiced by Steve Carell) constructs his first lair and weapons and begins carrying out missions of chaos. He ends up running afoul of the Vicious 6, a team comprised of the world's preeminent super-villains, and turns to their recently ousted leader — Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) — for help.

Taraji P. Henson (Belle Bottom), Jean-Claude Van Damme (Jean Clawed), Lucy Lawless as Nunchuck, Dolph Lundgren (Svengeance), and Danny Trejo (Stronghold) voice the remaining members of the Vicious 6. Supporting players include: Julie Andrews (Gru's overbearing mother), Russell Brand (Gru's mad-scientist-in-chief, Dr. Nefario), Michelle Yeoh (acupuncturist and kung fu expert, Master Chow), and RZA.

"Minions: The Rise of Gru is a joyous film," Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution, said in a statement to Variety. “Illumination and [its CEO] Chris Meledandri have done an amazing job with this franchise. And Steve Carell as Gru… it doesn’t get any better than that."

Jack Antonoff, founder and frontman of he Bleachers, curated a soundtrack of ultra-groovy '70s hits, while Diana Ross and Tame Impala were tapped for original tracks like "Turn Up the Sunshine." Now playing in theaters everywhere, Minions: The Rise of Gru holds a fresh 73 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Click here to purchase tickets.