‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ Opens With Boffo $108.5 Million Weekend; Poised to Shatter Fourth of July Record
Those little yellow guys racked up some serious green over the red-white-and-blue weekend.Minions: The Rise of Gru, the fifth and latest installment in Universal’s hit Despicable Me franchise, debuted to a stunning $108.5 million in its first three days of domestic release and is currently on pace to make $127.9 million by the time the Monday holiday is over—a number that would push it past 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($115.9 million) as the biggest Fourth of July debut ever in North America.

The box-office fireworks sparked by the pint-sized pranksters signaled an encouraging rebound for animated family films in the wake of Lightyear’s disappointing opening for Disney last month. The first standalone Minions film bowed to $115.7 over three days back in the summer of 2015, and The Rise of Gru, which traces how Gru evolved from a mischievous young boy into a grown-up supervillain, seems to have more or less matched that performance. But this time around, the box-office competition (thanks to Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, and Jurassic World Dominion) was fiercer, which makes this result feel like even more of a triumph. The Rise of Gru, which features the voices of Steve Carell, Taraji P. Henson, and Michelle Yeoh, won over audiences with a straight-A CinemaScore grade, while snagging a robust $22,005 per-screen average in 4,931 theaters. The little guys fared nearly as well overseas, where the movie opened to $93.7 million, putting its worldwide gross for its first three days at $202.2 million. Where will the Minions go from here? It’s too early to tell, but for comparison’s sake, their first 2015 outing finished its theatrical run with $336 million domestically and $1.16 billion worldwide.

In second place over the holiday session was Top Gun: Maverick with $25.5 million. The high-flying Tom Cruise vehicle just kept soaring in its sixth weekend, dropping a mere -13.7% from the previous frame. The Paramount blockbuster is projected to take in $32.5 million once Monday’s ticket receipts are counted. Unspooling in 3,843 theaters, the PG-13-rated sequel to Cruise’s 1986 flyboy sensation earned a $6,647 per-screen average, putting its current domestic haul at $564 million. Overseas, Top Gun 2 has raked in $544.5 million so far, putting its combined worldwide gross at just under $1.11 billion. The film, which has been breaking records left and right, added another milestone this week as it passed 2019’s The Lion King ($543.6 million) to become the twelfth-biggest domestic grosser ever.

Swiveling its hips into a third-place finish was Warner Bros.’ Elvis, which took in $19 million over the weekend. Director Baz Luhrmann’s PG-13-rated musical biopic of the King of Rock N’ Roll slipped -39.1% from the previous frame. The film, which stars Austin Butler as Elvis Presley and Tom Hanks as his Svengali manager Colonel Tom Parker, earned a $4,832 per-screen average at 3,932 locations. That haul and its relatively modest week-over-week drop-off was especially impressive considering that the film appeals to an older demographic that has been less inclined to return to movie theaters during the pandemic. Elvis’ two-week domestic take now stands at $67.3 million. Overseas, the title has added $46.2 million in ticket sales to date, putting its worldwide cume at $113.2 million.

In fourth place was Universal’s Jurassic World Dominion with just under $15.7 million. Although the latest dino chapter was panned by critics, who dinged the PG-13 action-adventure with a lowly 30% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences continue to turn out. The third and final film in the Jurassic World trilogy, which stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard as well as the original trilogy’s trio of Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, and Laura Dern, shed -41.5% from the previous session, scoring a $4,117 per-screen average in 3,801 theaters. After four weeks, the tentpole has made $331.8 million domestically. Overseas, where Dominion opened a week earlier, it has now pulled in $492.7 million, putting its new global cume at $824.5 million.

Rounding out the top five was the Universal horror flick The Black Phone with $12.3 million. The R-rated chiller, which stars Ethan Hawke as a serial killer in a deeply unsettling mask, fell -48% from the previous weekend, while scaring up a $3,897 per-screen average at 3,156 locations. Its two-week domestic tally is now $47.5 million. Internationally, The Black Phone has made a hair under $27 million in its first two weeks, putting its current worldwide cume at $74.4 million.

Also of note were two indies that debuted within the top 15: Bleecker Street Media’s Mr. Malcolm’s List, a PG-rated period romance starring Freida Pinto, opened in seventh place with $851,853; while Roadside Attractions’ The Forgiven, an R-rated Moroccan-set drama starring Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain, bowed in fifteenth place with $132,565 in a more limited run.

Meanwhile for those who like to track year-over-year Fourth of July performances, here is how the top three looked a year ago over the holiday frame: 1.) F9: The Fast Saga in its second weekend—$29.1 million; 2.) The Boss Baby 2 in its first weekend—$19.7 million; 3.) The Forever Purge in its first weekend—$15.8 million.