LOS ANGELES, July 3 (Variety.com) - It's official -- the
Minions are back.
Universal and Illumination's "Minions: The Rise of Gru" is
setting off fireworks at the Fourth of July box office,
projecting a $129.2 million opening over the four-day holiday
weekend from 4,400 locations. On a three-day scale, the
"Despicable Me" prequel looks to gross $109.4 million -- that
number would mark the highest domestic opening for an animated
film since 2019's "Frozen 2," representing a huge bounce back
for family-friendly fare after lockdowns due to the COVID-19
The Illumination production took off to an explosive $10.75
million in Thursday previews, initially setting projections for
the long holiday weekend in the range of $65 million to $75
million. "The Rise of Gru" is now nearly doubling those
Should the "Minions" sequel fulfill its current projections,
the film will shatter the Fourth of July weekend box office
record. Paramount's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" currently
stands as the highest grossing earner for an Independence Day
four-day frame -- the 2011 blockbuster grossed $115.9 million
over the period.
Additionally, "The Rise of Gru" has a chance to become
Illumination's top domestic opener ever. The film's predecessor,
2015's "Minions," currently stands as the animation studio's
best, with a $115.7 million three-day opening. The sequel could
break beyond that figure if it continues to grow over the
weekend. In other words, the Minions may be bigger than ever.
"Minions: The Rise of Gru" serves as both a sequel to 2015's
"Minions" and a prequel to "Despicable Me." The film follows a
12-year-old Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) as he grows up in awe
of a team of supervillains. Hankering to join them, Gru asks his
sentient, overall-sporting pill creatures to sit on the
sidelines for the job interview. Of course, things don't quite
work out as Gru expects them to. The voice cast also includes
Pierre Coffin, Alan Arkin, Taraji P. Henson, Jean-Claude Van
Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren and Danny Trejo.
With little competition for kid-friendly films on the
immediate horizon, Universal hopes that "Minions: The Rise of
Gru" enjoys a long run at the summer box office. Word-of-mouth
should be strong, as audiences bestowed the film an "A" rating
through research firm Cinema Score, indicating enthusiastic
Critics have generally met "The Rise of Gru" amicably too,
with the film scoring a 70% aggregate approval rating from top
critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety chief film critic Peter
Debruge quite enjoyed what he called a "delightfully silly
sequel," writing: "Six months into 2022, it's the funniest film
Hollywood has produced thus far. Audiences know what to expect,
and Illumination delivers, offering another feel-good dose of
In the now weekly segment of "Goodness gracious, 'Top Gun:
Maverick' is only dropping how much?,' the Tom Cruise sequel is
projecting a measly 9% fall from its outing last weekend,
drawing a $26.8 million three-day haul. The numbers shouldn't be
surprising after more than a month of box office dominance,
especially considering the star-spangled sequel essentially
advertises itself as the ultimate movie to go see on Fourth of
July weekend, though they continue to impress.
"Maverick," which was co-financed and co-produced by
Skydance, should take silver at the Fourth of July weekend box
office. The film will expand its domestic gross to $572 million
through Monday, continuing to push the ceiling higher on its run
as 2022's highest grossing domestic release.
"Elvis" is headed for third place. The Warner Bros. released
added $5.3 million to its domestic gross on Friday, dropping a
moderate 58% from its opening day last weekend. The film is
expected to push its total North American gross past $70 million
through the holiday weekend.
With a production budget of $85 million, "Elvis" has a ways
to go to land comfortably in the black. However, the film has
still managed to put together an impressive first ten days for a
release aimed squarely at adult audiences without ties to any
Universal's "Jurassic World Dominion" is eyeing a fourth
place finish, dropping a modest 39% from its outing last
weekend. Though the film is billed as the finale to the
"Jurassic" franchise, "Dominion" should expand its domestic haul
to $336 million through Monday, indicating that there's still
plenty of gas in the tank for the dinosaur-centric property.
Fifth place should go to Universal as well, with the
Blumhouse production "The Black Phone" set to earn $11.9 million
over the three-day frame. That's only a 50% drop-off from its
opening last weekend, which is a comparatively strong hold for
the horror genre. The Scott Derrickson-directed feature only
carries an $18 million production. With the film set to expand
its domestic haul to $50 million through Monday, Universal and
Blumhouse should be glowing at the turnaround.
Beyond the top five, Disney's "Lightyear" is facing the heat
from "Minions: The Rise of Gru" drawing in family audiences. The
Pixar production added $2 million to its domestic haul Friday,
dropping 64% from the previous week. The "Toy Story" spinoff has
been one of Pixar's slowest films to push past a $100 million
domestic gross and has yet to match the $120 million opening
weekend figure of "Toy Story 4" in 2019.
In terms of previous Pixar productions, "Lightyear" is on
track to land in the neighborhood of the studio's lowest
grossing domestic earners. The film has only surpassed the
pandemic-impacted $61.5 million haul of 2020's "Onward." Now, it
looks to grow beyond "The Good Dinosaur" ($123 million), "Cars
3" ($152 million), "A Bug's Life" ($162 million) and, if the box
office legs prove stronger than anticipated, "Cars 2" ($191
million) and the first "Toy Story" ($192 million).
"Mr. Malcolm's List," a regency era romantic drama, isn't
making much of an impression in its domestic debut. The film is
projected to earn $1.03 million over the four-day holiday frame
from 1,384 locations, marking a meager $741 per theater.
Bleecker Street is handling North American distribution.