Weekend Box Office Forecast (Update): Minions: The Rise of Gru Could Leverage 4th of July Holiday to Score Best Family-Driven Debut Since 2019

Photo Credits: Universal & Illumination ("Minions: The Rise of Gru")

Friday Update: Universal reports this morning that Minions: The Rise of Gru earned $10.75 million from domestic previews beginning at 2pm from 3,350 domestic locations.

Comparisons for a family movie range far and wide with the early start time, long holiday weekend, and increased awareness of previews among general audiences in this day and age.

With that caveat in mind, it’s easily the highest preview gross of any animated film since 2019’s remake of the The Lion King ($23 million) and the same summer’s Toy Story 4 ($12.0 million), coming in higher than Frozen II‘s $8.5 million November launch from 6pm shows.

It’s also the highest ever for a non-Disney and non-Pixar animated release.

Past comps from the Illumination franchise are virtually irrelevant given their age, but for inclusion’s sake, Despicable Me 3 earned $4.1 million from Thursday shows in summer 2017, while Minions pulled $6.2 million in 2015.

Rise of Gru is on pace to blow away previous industry expectations of $60 million over the four-day opening, and may even exceed our previously forecast high-end target of $104 million (see below) if Monday fireworks don’t pull too many families away from the theater.

Regardless, this is a fantastic start for the franchise’s fifth entry and a hugely encouraging signal of the continued rebound for general moviegoers, parents, and kids during the waning days of the pandemic.

Wednesday Report: 2022’s midpoint hosts Independence Day weekend at the box office, and Minions: The Rise of Gru is poised to capitalize on pent-up demand for a tentpole animated comedy.

The Illumination prequel-sequel hybrid, under Universal’s parent banner, is generating the kind of pre-sales more akin to what was expected from Lightyear earlier this month and on par with the highest end of preliminary expectations.

In fact, current trends have significantly raised the ceiling of what could be achievable this weekend, although there are some asterisks to that. Other tracking metrics remain comparable to Despicable Me 3 when it opened to $72.4 million over its three-day bow in 2017.

Among pandemic era comparisons, as usual, it’s wise to take everything with some grain of salt. Lightyear proved to have numerous factors working against it and wasn’t comedic (a genre that typically elevates animated films’ box office prowess). Prior to that, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was driven mostly by a young (67 percent under age 25) and male (57 percent) audience while opening during spring when schools were in session. That film’s $72.1 million debut stands as the biggest family-driven box office start since 2019.

Conversely, the Despicable and Minions films have leaned slightly more toward other demographics. 2017’s Despicable Me 3 drew an even split among men and women, while 2015’s initial Minions spin-off skewed 59 percent female and 55 percent under age 25.

The latter statistics are relevant given consistent drumming about the fact that adult women (many of whom are mothers) have been the most cautious to return to cinemas throughout the pandemic recovery. They’re also a demographic known to favor pre-purchasing habits for some movies, though expected walk-up business for an animated film serves as the counterpoint to that historic trend in this film’s case.

All told, though, the signals are encouraging for Rise of Gru. Consumer sentiment has risen dramatically this summer as a variety of films have brought back a wide swath of moviegoers. The aforementioned Lightyear‘s failure to launch syndrome only adds to the desire of families and young ones to catch a funny cartoon in theaters again, a rarity outside of Sing 2 and Encanto last holiday season when the Omicron variant was dominating headlines and suppressing attendance.

Moreover, the Minions brand has arguably become just as strong as — if not stranger than — the original Despicable trio of films themselves. Nevertheless, a return of Steve Carell as his younger Gru certainly isn’t hurting this latest franchise installment among parents well familiar with the actor.

Marketing has been in high gear for some time as the last remaining 2020 tentpole delayed by the pandemic. Universal and Illumination reserved the film for a theatrically exclusive play due to the brand’s global prowess, and that should pay off this weekend.

The studio expects a four-day domestic opening around $60 million, although that increasingly appears to be a conservative forecast as tracking and pre-sale metrics evolve in real time this week and an inflated Sunday waits on deck with the Monday’s Fourth of July holiday in the States (in addition to Canada Day on Friday). Previews begin at 2pm on Thursday.

As holdovers go, it should once again be Paramount and Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick impressing on the charts with another soft decline. The film has endured everything thrown its way over the last few weeks and continues to rival the newest releases in the market. With a patriotic holiday tied to the coming weekend, and no direct competition, it’s a safe bet that Maverick will again outdo all previous holdovers in release.

Also opening in semi-wide release this weekend is Bleecker Street’s Mr. Malcolm’s List, but we’re not currently offering up forecasts for the film although a top ten debut is achievable based on projection location counts.

Weekend Ranges

Minions: The Rise of Gru
3-Day Opening Weekend Range: $73 – 89 million
4-Day Opening Weekend Range: $86 – 104 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections

Current projection ranges call for a 20 to 30 percent increase for this weekend’s three-day portion from last weekend’s $133.3 million top ten aggregate.

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, July 3 3-Day % Change from Last Wknd 4-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Monday, July 4 Location Count Projection (as of Wed)
Minions: The Rise of Gru Universal & Illumination Animation $77,800,000 $77,800,000 NEW $92,900,000 $92,900,000 4,400
Top Gun: Maverick Paramount Pictures $26,000,000 $565,200,000 -12% $33,100,000 $572,300,000 ~3,800
Jurassic World Dominion Universal Pictures $18,300,000 $335,300,000 -32% $22,900,000 $339,900,000 ~3,800
Elvis Warner Bros. $17,000,000 $63,600,000 -45% $21,400,000 $68,000,000 ~3,900
The Black Phone Universal Pictures $12,800,000 $48,900,000 -46% $15,300,000 $51,400,000 ~3,150
Lightyear Disney & Pixar $9,400,000 $109,500,000 -48% $11,600,000 $111,700,000 ~3,700
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Disney & Marvel Studios $1,000,000 $411,300,000 -44% $1,200,000 $411,500,000 ~600
Everything Everywhere All at Once A24 $500,000 $67,000,000 -5% $625,000 $67,100,000 ~600
The Bad Guys Universal Pictures & DreamWorks Animation $200,000 $96,100,000 -56% $250,000 $96,200,000 ~300
Mr. Malcolm’s List Bleecker Street     NEW     1,384

*All forecasts are subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studiosThe above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.