The Hype Machine That Turned Minions Into a $4 Billion Juggernaut

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It was eight days since Minions: Rise of Gru premiered, and American cinemas have not yet recovered. GruThe audience arrived by the thousands, many in formal suits, cheering loudly and occasionally throwing bananas at the screen in honor of the most incredible box office success of the year. The only thing that has been watched more in the last week than the movie itself, maybe in hundreds from TikToks and tweets made about it.

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Rise of Gru is the fifth film in the Minions franchise, which began with Despicable Me in 2010 year. The plot centers on Gru, an 11-year-old teenager with a vague Russian accent who recruits a team of minions in his quest to become a supervillain. Gru is the protagonist, but the movie is actually about minions – varieties of soft yellow balls whose origins were explored in 2015. minions, the third part of the franchise. They speak in gibberish (and random mix French, English, Spanish and Italian), dress almost exclusively in denim and bring to the movies the kind of slapstick comedy that made them popular with kids for a decade.

Thus, minion mania is nothing new. The first four films have grossed over $3.5 billion worldwide, making it the most highest grossing animated film franchise during all this time. But even these films pale in comparison to Gru uprising, who catapulted the franchise’s global takeover passed the $4 billion mark mark and inflate the Internet with a hype so contagious that even people who have never seen Despicable Me became part of #minionscult.

For some, it’s pure random chaos. One video explains #minionssult as a sort of viral “take over TikTok” challenge with banana emoji and matching profile pictures. Of course, random chaos is exactly what minions do best. In one movie, they use their vast lab resources to create a fart gun. Why not! TikToker, which started a trendknown by the pseudonym @HutchBucketz, just wanted to see if Universal Pictures would agree invite him to the premiere from Rise of Gru if he made enough noise. (Unfortunately, the studio didn’t.)

Others, many of whom are youngsters who grew up on the franchise, have banded together around a different trend. This includes showing up in theaters in droves, wearing formal attire, and greeting each other in Gru’s gentlemanly fashion. This past weekend, the presence of these #GentleMinions became so prominent that at least one theater in the UK staged sign warning that he would not allow visitors in suits and ties to enter. Universal, meanwhile, posted tweet saying “to everyone who appears on @Minions in costume: we see you and love you.”

Ryan Broderick, who writes the Junk Day newsletter on Substack, suggested that #GentleMinions could have come about as reference to an earlier meme around 2019 movie Joker, where people posted photos of inchel-like men with the caption “two tickets to Joker, please.” Young people dressed in costumes and asking for “30 million tickets for minions” seems like a reference to an old trend.

If that’s the case, then it’s far outstripped the influence Joker meme. Rise of Gru raised $125 million domestically, its first weekend, breaking previous Fourth of July box office records, the movie equivalent of Redditors boosting Gamestop’s share price. It also shows no signs of slowing down. Never underestimate the influence of the Internet on the transition from one screen to another.

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