Yellow ‘Minions’ are gold at the box office

The yellow henchmen of Despicable Me are now Hollywood box-office superheroes in their own right.

Minions had a monstrous debut of $115.2 million this weekend, according to Rentrak, and the animated spinoff continued to cement the cute little gibberish-spouting characters as a pop-culture force.

“They’re bigger than SpongeBob (SquarePants). They just have that mass appeal right now and are basically a merchandiser’s dream,” says Jeff Bock, senior box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations.

Minions’ opening is the second biggest all time for an animated film — Shrek the Third holds the record with $121.6 million in 2007 — and the movie’s Friday haul of $46.2 million is the best single day ever for a cartoon feature. Minions added to the success of the two previous Despicable Me films, which racked up more than $600 million domestically and $1.5 billion worldwide.

The Minions were the breakout stars of that franchise, and the new film is just giving audiences what they crave, says Rentrak media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “More Minions equals more millions.”

Adds Bock: “Minions hits that strange Forrest Gump area where they’re kind of fools but there’s something really sweet about them. If you hit that right, it’s very endearing to audiences.”

Kids are a major force behind the movie’s success, obviously: According to a Rentrak exit survey, a whopping 77% of youngsters said they would definitely recommendMinions and 65% of the audience was under age 25. It’s skewing toward women and girls, too, as females accounted for 56% of Minions moviegoers.

“We’re just seeing females in general being an integral part of so many movies this year,” says Dergarabedian.

Dinosaur-laden Jurassic World is still stomping all over most of its competition. The blockbuster made $18.1 million in its fifth weekend, good enough for No. 2, and continues to march toward $600 million total in North America.

Inside Out, which takes place inside a tween’s head, is third with $17.1 million. After nearly a month, its $283.7 million box office ranks fourth-highest overall among Disney/Pixar animated movies.

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