Weekend Box Office: ‘Minions’ Had A Historically Huge Opening Because #Branding

Universal’s Minions opened to an estimated $115 million domestic this weekend (plus $280.5 million overseas) to become the second biggest debut for an animated film ever. I’ll bet you’ll never guess which was the biggest animated film. Hint: it’s Shrek the Third, with $121.6 million in 2007. I barely remember that movie existed.

Minions‘ money continues Universal’s string of hits, to go with Furious 7, Jurassic World, and Fifty Shades of Grey, four of the year’s top six grossing films. Proving they know where money is best spent, Minions‘ production budget was only $74 million (for comparison, Shrek the Third – number one animated opening ever – cost $160 million, Toy Story 3 – number three animated opening – cost $200 million). Though they did benefit from $593 million worth of tie-in ads from Amazon, General Mills, McDonald’s, Comcast, Snapchat, etc. What a day to be a #brand. Let’s all hold brands and #synergize.

Minions had pretty poor reviews, so it’s even money whether we’ll someday remember it better than Shrek the Third. Not that anyone at Universal cares.

“They’re everywhere, those yellow guys,” Nick Carpou, Universal’s domestic distribution chief said. “In a way they exist in the culture without even having a film attached to them.” [Variety]

I know, right? It’s almost as if people spent more than half a billion dollars putting them in ads. What an organic cult phenomenon. Minions are like the Rocky Horror Picture Show of breakfast cereal spokesmen.

Elsewhere, Self/less (my review) teamed perennial underachievers Tarsem Singh (The Fall, The Cell) and Ryan Reynolds, and was basically a low-water mark for both of them, critically and commercially. The $26 million budgeted film earned just $5.3 million domestically (less than micro-budgeted horror film The Gallows, which earned $10 million this weekend). If Bill Simmons thought Ryan Reynolds wasn’t a movie star four years ago, you don’t even want to know what he thinks now.

And without getting too personal, it is more evidence that while Ryan Reynolds is an engaging media presence and a decent actor he is not a “get people into the theater” movie star and probably never will be. And yet because he was once proclaimed the next big thing, he will continue to get the kind of leading role/star vehicle opportunities that any number of other actors and actresses would kill for. [Forbes]

“Not a movie star” is to actors what “not elite” is to quarterbacks. Meanwhile, there are maybe five actors in the world who do get people into theaters on name alone anymore, the rest have to do good projects. Ryan Reynolds… well, he’s either tremendously unlucky, bad at choosing scripts, or a little of both.

Self/less, on 2,353 screens, barely outearned Baahubali: The Beginning, a Bollywood hit that opened on just 236 screens, earning $3.575 million. I don’t know what it’s about, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it involves dancing.

Okay yeah, that looks fairly cool. Those sumptuous visuals remind me of the movies Tarsem Singh used to make, before he got roped into doing a body swap movie with Ryan Reynolds.

This week brings us Ant-Man and Trainwreck.