SATURDAY AM: Refresh for chart and more analysis A fifth animated movie about annoying, high-pitched, frantic little beetles who many in the industry thought could under-deliver over the July 4th weekend is doing exactly the opposite of that as Illumination/Universal’s Minions: The Rise of Gru is hauling in some serious cash with a $109.5M 3-day, and $129.2M 4-day. The expected worldwide debut of $196.6M ($202.1M with holdovers) is decimating our earlier projection of $150M.
It’s just more proof that it certainly pays not to send everything to streaming; that there’s money in them’ movie theaters. I’m sure there’s a faction of Universal brass in the face of NBCUniversal CEO window-crusher Jeff Shell who are beaming, and relieved, over the power of the theatrical window. Like Paramount saving Top Gun: Maverick during the pandemic, which turned into a billion-plus success for them and the highest grossing movie YTD, it truly paid to save your tentpoles during the pandemic. One high-level rival studio source mentioned to me a few weeks ago with suspicion: “We’ll just see how good the marketplace is for animated family films after Rise of Gru.” Well, the answer to that is clear as an azure sky of deepest summer: the appetite for animated family movies is perfectly fine.
It would not be shocking if Rise of Gru here topples the biggest Friday-Sunday opening ever for an Illumination/Universal movie, that is 2015’s Minions which did $115.7M. Already on a 4-day basis, Rise of Gru beat the Friday-Monday take of Minions (even though that was over a non-holiday), which was $128.6M. An A CinemaScore is only going to make ticket sales go higher. Currently the fifth title here is the second best domestic debut ever for the studios. Rise of Gru‘s 4-day is arguably a record for the Independence Day holiday stretch. How is that? Given how July 4th jumps around the calendar and in some years creates a 4-day weekend, Rise of Gru‘s $129.2M is ahead of the Independence Day 4-day record of 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon which did $115.88M in its Friday-Monday stretch. That’s when July 4th fell on a Monday. Yes, yes, there’s Sony/Marvel’s 2019 mammoth Spider-Man: Far From Home which opened on Tuesday, July 2, in a year when July 4th fell on a Thursday. That pic clocked a 3-day of $92.5M, and a 6-day of $185M.
Adults titles like Top Gun: Maverick and Elvis are also fueling a very rich box office weekend, in what is still not post-pandemic yet, with all movies totaling an estimated $195M over 3-days, 28% ahead of the same respective weekend 26 in 2019 and 6% ahead of that year’s July 4th frame (which was July 5-7).
FRIDAY MIDDAY: Moviegoers can’t resist dinosaurs, and they can’t resist Minions, especially when they’re coming from Universal. The studio has a big Fourth of July winner in the fifth Illumination movie starring the little guys as Minions: The Rise of Gru will see a $116.6M 4-day holiday opening and a $98.7M 3-day after a $43M opening day (which includes Thursday night’s $10.75M) at 4,391 theaters.
Minions: The Rise of Gru is the fifth-highest opening of 2022 after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($187.4M), Jurassic World Dominion ($145M), The Batman ($134M) and Top Gun: Maverick ($126.7M).
Rise of Gru is easily the top opening for an animated movie during the pandemic and the best for the Independence Day holiday in the Covid era, and it’s the fifth Despicable Me/Minions title to open at No. 1 in U.S./Canada.
The sequel also in on pace to be the 10th-highest animated film domestically, knocking Inside Out from No. 10, which debuted to $90.4M in 2015.
At this early point in the weekend, Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick is eyeing a sixth weekend between $24M-$26M at 3,808 theaters, looking to clear $570M by EOD Monday. Friday is estimated around $7M. Warner Bros.’ Elvis booked at 3,932 locations is seeing a $5.7M second Friday and a second weekend around $20M, -35%, and 4-day of $25M. By Monday, the Baz Luhrmann movie could reach $73M.
Universal also has two other movies in the top five this weekend. Jurassic World Dominion at 3,801 sites with a fourth weekend of $15.4M, -42%, after a fourth Friday of $4.3M. A $19M 4-day is in store with the sixth Jurassic movie potentially landing at $335.1M by EOD Monday. Uni/Blumhouse’s The Black Phone is in 5th place with a second weekend of $10.6M, -55%, 4-day of $12.6M after a Friday of $3.5M. Pic’s 11-day total by end of the holiday looks to land at $47.7M.
FRIDAY AM: Universal/Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru has grabbed the best previews for an animated movie during the pandemic with $10.75M. That’s purely from showtimes that started at 2 p.m. Thursday in 3,350 theaters. This no doubt bodes for another excellent weekend at the summer box office.
That beats the $6.25M combined two-day previews of Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the combined $5.2M in previews for Disney’s Lightyear. Rise of Gru also bests the previews of 2015’s Minions, which minted $6.2M off showtimes that began at 5 p.m. and went on to make $46M on its opening day (including those previews) and a $115.7M opening.
Also, Rise of Gru is ahead of Despicable Me 3‘s $4.1M Thursday night previews (6 p.m. start time), which went on to post a $29M first day and $72.4M 3-day.
Even more mindblowing: Rise of Gru‘s Thursday night is higher than Marvel’s Eternals, which did $9.5M off 6 p.m. showtimes.
The Chris Meledandri-produced animated sequel was looking to gross $70M-$80M over four days at 4,391 locations. Now it could be more like $90M-$100M. Since mid-March 2020, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 owns the best opening for an animated movie at $72.1M.
Mostly guy-skewing last night for Rise of Gru, however, it’s expected that moms will turn out. Those under 25 were 70%. Boys dominated those under 12 at 60%.
On Rotten Tomatoes, critics gave Rise of Gru a 69% vs. Minions 55% Rotten. Despicable Me was the best-reviewed of the series at 81% fresh, Part 2 with 75% and Part 3 at 59% Rotten.
Meanwhile, in the war between older-adult skewing movies, Paramount/Skydance’s Top Gun: Maverick and Warner Bros.’ Elvis, the Tom Cruise sequel was ahead of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays, except for Tuesday when the Baz Luhrmann film took the edge, $5.2M to $4.7M.
Maverick ends its fifth week with $47.2M at 3,948 sites, sending its running total to $538.4M — the highest-grossing movie of the year to date, 31% ahead of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Maverick grossed $4M on Thursday, -7% from Wednesday. The outlook is for a 20% ease in the pic’s 4-day sixth weekend from last weekend, so about $23.7M.
Elvis ends Week 1 with $48.3M at 3,906 theaters. The pic made $3.5M on Thursday, -11% from Wednesday. Industry estimates expect at most a 40% ease in the 4-day vs. 3-day of Elvis, meaning about $18.7M. Box office sources believe Zoey 101 and Ruby & the Rockits actor Austin Butler is the key for bringing in the under-25 crowd as Elvis comes off of some ecstatic buzz.
Universal/Amblin’s Jurassic World Dominion at 4,233 earned $2.7M, -11% from Wednesday for a running total in Week 3 of $316.1M, 9% behind previous chapter Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom at the same point in time. Dominion‘s third week came in at $39.8M.
Universal/Blumhouse’s The Black Phone ends Week 1 at 3,150 with $35.1M after a $2.5M Thursday, -7% from Wednesday.
Lightyear did an estimated $1.57M Thursday at 4,255 locations, -31% from Wednesday, a $27.6M second week, and a running total of $98.7M.