Families have come back to theaters! Or kids have really just been waiting two years to see the new Minions movie. They certainly were not waiting for Lightyear (at least, not as many). The weekend, not even factoring in the holiday, ranks as the 11th best in July ever and the 3rd best when the Fourth falls during the weekend or on a Monday. The big tentpole is precisely what theaters wanted in an animated release, but is it only a momentary respite?
(Photo by Universal Pictures)
After two years of languishing in pandemic delays, Universal finally got to unleash Minions: The Rise of Gru upon its clearly adoring audience. The Despicable Me franchise (with its Minions spinoffs) have amounted to over $3.65 billion for the studio over four films. It will make it over $4 billion later this week, thanks to this sequel becoming the 10th fully animated film to open over $100 million, the eighth best ever, between Toy Story 3 and Shrek 2. The first Minions film in 2015 opened to $115.7 million and made a franchise best of $336 million domestic and $1.15 billion worldwide (the fourth highest ever.) The Rise of Gru opened to $107 million and is expected to climb over $125 million through the Monday holiday. Not only is that more than double the quickly infamous Lightyear opening from two weeks ago, but the Minions have already outgrossed the Pixar film in just four days.
This is just the shot in the arm that studios and theaters were hoping to see from a family-oriented film, given that the $100-191 million category in this group has been populated only by Sonic the Hedghog 2, Sing 2, and Lightyear since 2020. At the same time, these titles all fall into the same IP trend that has been dominating the box office since audiences started coming back. Adult and original films continue to struggle to make a serious dent, and Minions could be a fleeting bump before the demographic comes back to Earth again. July still has a pair of family titles in waiting with Paws of Fury and DC League of Super Pets. The latter may find some decent The Bad Guys-to-Sing 2 range, but those Lightyear numbers may look less dour through the end of the year when the calendar only offers Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, Disney’s Strange World, and Puss In Boots: The Last Wish.
That’s the potential bad news portion. The good news is that Minions: The Rise of Gru is here and it is currently gobbling up money. The average opening-to-final-gross multiple for animated films opening to over $100 million is a healthy 3.43, albeit with the 2015 Minions representing the second-lowest at 2.77. It seems unlikely Rise of Gru will drop so hard that it just barely gets over $300 million. On the other hand, a $375 million gross would make it Illumination Entertainment’s highest-grossing film to date, beating out The Secret Life of Pets ($368.3 million) and Despicable Me 2 ($367.9 million). That total would also be more than the two highest-grossing family films during the pandemic combined ($353.5 million). The next target is half a billion worldwide. As of this weekend, it stands at over $195 million, nearly halfway to the leaders of that category, which include Sonic, Sing, and Fantastic Beasts. Lightyear is only at $170 million.
(Photo by Scott Garfield/©Paramount Pictures)
Here’s a familiar story. Top Gun: Maverick continues to excel and plant its flag in the Avatar/Titanic camp. Now in its sixth weekend, the film added another $25.5 million to its total. That is a 13.7% drop from last weekend, when it almost beat Elvis’ opening, and it’s higher than Titanic’s sixth frame ($25.2 million) and second only to Avatar’s $34.9 million. Passing $564 million through Sunday, the film now has the ninth-best total after 38 days. That puts its pace ahead of Incredibles 2 and just a day off of Marvel’s The Avengers in eighth place. It is now a guarantee to pass $600 million and become one of the 10 highest-grossing films in their initial run. (Sorry re-releases.) $650 million is the next goal, and there is just no sense in doubting it at this point, as it is likely to remain in the top 10 past Labor Day weekend. It has also climbed to over $1.1 billion worldwide.
Four is the number associated with Jurassic World Dominion this week. Down to fourth place, it netted another $15.6 million in its fourth weekend, bringing its total to nearly $332 million. That is good enough for 35th all time for films after 24 days of release. Still wedged between Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and this year’s The Batman, its fourth frame was more than $4 million less than both of those films, signaling that $400 million is even further out of its grasp. But $375 million still appears to be a reasonable goal. It is also now just the fourth film since the pandemic started to gross over $800 million worldwide.
Last week’s #1 film fell back to third this week, but still with a very solid hold. Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis dropped 39% to $19 million this weekend, bringing its total to over $68 million. Bohemian Rhapsody opened higher and dropped just a bit less (-38.9%) its second frame, but Elvis is well ahead of its musical biopic competitors at this point. Catching up to the pace of fellow June releases Ocean’s Thirteen and Central Intelligence, Elvis could be headed for a final gross between $120-130 million, even if it might only be coming up even with its costs. Its international total stands at only $46 million. The Black Phone dropped a little steeper, down 50% to $12.3 million, but this is a solid hit for Universal and Blumhouse. It has three more weeks before Jordan Peele’s Nope opens, and it’s already on pace for a $75-80 million finish. If it holds well until Nope, it could find itself over $80 million, outgrossing this year’s Scream.
(Photo by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Lightyear has indeed become quite the disappointment for all involved. What once was thought of as potentially the next big film to bring families back to theaters is now in real danger of falling behind The Good Dinosaur, the lowest-grossing film in Pixar’s legacy to not have its run cut short by a world-changing pandemic. The worst third weekend a Pixar film ever had was Cars 3, which made $9.6 million in 2017. Lightyear grossed $6.6 million this weekend, bringing its 17-day total to only $106 million. Again, that’s less than Minions made in three. The Good Dinosaur only had $81 million in that same period, but it was able to hang on longer through the winter holidays in 2015. At the rate Lightyear is dropping, The Good Dinosaur’s $123 million could be out of reach, and yet it is still one of only four PG-rated films to gross over $100 million since 2019.
The film parents should be taking their kids to is still in limited release. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On added 16 theaters to its run this weekend and grossed another $258,000, an increase from its opening in just 6 theaters to $169,000. With a total that will cross $500,000, it is still a little too early to tell if or when word-of-mouth will propel it forward to become another big hit for A24. It finished in 11th place this week and will open across the country on July 15, a few weeks after Minions has settled in, facing off directly against Paws of Fury. A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Once expanded to 38 theaters in its second weekend earlier this year and grossed $1.07 million. It is now their biggest success ever, earning $552,000 this weekend for a total over $67 million.
(Photo by ©Marvel Studios)
A strong July is going to continue next week as Marvel drops Thor: Love and Thunder. After the character’s dramatic transformation in Ragnarok, Taika Waititi returns to the director chair to keep up the yuks, bring back Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor, and introduce Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher. Are Doctor Strange numbers possible, or will it end up just shy of $400 million once audiences chime in?
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[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]