Friday Report: Box Office Do-'Minion'
Minions, the 3-D prequel to Universal's Despicable Me franchise, opened to $6.2M last night in a reported 2,985 venues for a per-theater take of $2,077. The CG animated flick from Illumination Entertainment marches into 4,301 venues today, the most North American venues in Universal's history.

Thus Minions looks on track to replicate the domestic success of its predecessor Despicable Me 2, which opened to $83.5M in 3,997 theaters on the Fourth of July weekend in 2013. Actually, if this third installment can keep Despicable Me 2's same per theater take of $20,895, Minions will leave the weekend closer to the $90M mark, if not higher. It's particularly feasible considering Inside Out opened to $3.7M on its Thursday preview showings putting it on the path to a smashing $91M weekend.

Also opening, but not a competitive threat to the little, yellow, pill-shaped creatures, is Focus Features' Self/Less, which is opening in 2,353 venues. The film stars Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley, in the "old man injected into the body of a young(ish) man" sci-fi thriller. The film will have to get past the early, tepid-to-negative reaction as it sits with a not-bad 6.4/10 from 111 users on IMDb, a Metascore of 35/100 and a Tomatometer of 21. If it makes the guest-imated $6M it's supposed to make it will be fortunate.

The Gallows, the latest "found footage" flick from Blumhouse Productions, opens at 2,720 theaters and had better capitalize quickly. It has a much worse overall rating than even Self/Less with 4.5/10 from 344 users on IMDb, a Metascore of 33/100 and Tomatometer of 14. Of course crowds seem to be less responsive to poor reviews and ratings for these on-the-cheap horror films, at least on opening weekend. The Gallows's ads are cleverly aping the very successful ads for the Parnormal Activity franchise, wherein the focus was reaction from the audience watching the film in a theater, rather than footage of the film itself. Though some outlets have this film at around $10M for the weekend, it could outdo that number for a $13M - $14M weekend.

Aping a franchise is not only a good idea in the horror genre it works well internationally in the animated/family film genre as well. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Despicable Me/Minions story is how it has grown its audience overseas, tracing the footsteps/pawprints of earlier franchises, such as the Ice Age franchise and the Madagascar franchise.

The first Despicable Me, in 2010, grossed $543M worldwide, with domestic accounting for $251.5M (46.3%) and international $291.6M (53.7%), not quite an even split, but close.

So too for the first Ice Age which made $383.2M worldwide in 2002, with domestic accounting for $176.3M (46%) and international $206.9M (54%), eerily similar in their respective percentages.

When it came to the second films in both series they displayed a comparable breakout of domestic-to-overseas, with the foreign coin more than doubling the domestic. Ice Age: The Meltdown, made $661M worldwide in 2006, with domestic accounting for $195.3M (29.6%) and international $465.6M (70.4%). The 2nd Despicable movie, Despicable Me 2 made $970M worldwide in 2013 with domestic accounting for $368M (37.9%) and international at $602.7M (62.1%).

The third Ice Age film, 2009's Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs made $886.7M worldwide, with domestic accounting for $196.6M (22.2%) and international $690.1M (77.8%).

The fourth Ice Age film, 2012's Ice Age: Continental Drift, saw overseas display its dominance even further. While domestic Ice Age coin fell off from the previous film, foreign coin took up the slack. Drift made $877.2M worldwide, with domestic accounting for $161.3 (18.4%) and international $716M (81.6%).

The Madagascar franchise followed largely the same patterns, with Penguins of Madagascar the exception, though it did not focus on the same lead characters.

Though that's true for Minions too, as Gru (the Despicable Me of the title) and his three adopted daughters are not the main characters, the audience, particularly internationally, do not seem to care.

Minions opened June 17th (a Wednesday) in Indonesia and is now in 26 international markets, landing at the #1 spot in 25 of those markets. It was the biggest opening day ever for an animated film in Germany, Spain, Argentina and Colombia and the biggest opening weekend ever for an animated film in Argentina, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Lithuania and Slovakia. Its overseas gross sits at $141.5M and opens in another 25 markets this weekend including big ones such as France, Mexico and Russia. Another 13 will follow in the coming months. Nothing despicable about that.

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This Weekend in Past Years:

• 2014 - Weekend Report: 'Transformers' Repeats On Weak Independence Day Weekend

• 2013 - 'Despicable' Defeats 'Ranger' Over Busy Fourth of July

• 2012 - 'Spider-Man' Swings High But Falls Short of Predecessors

• 2011 - 'Transformers' Claims Independence Gross Record• 2010 - 'Eclipse' Swoons But Sweeps Up Over Independence Day

• 2009 - 'Tranformers' Fends Off 'Ice Age' in Close Independence Weekend

• 2007 - Moviegoers Spark to 'Transformers'

• 2006 - 'Pirates' Raid Record Books

• 2005 - 'War of the Worlds' Booms on Independence Day

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