It was only a matter of time, wasn’t it, but ‘Minions’ has made a billion dollars at the worldwide box office. But what’s their appeal?
Officially, the ‘Despicable Me’ spin-off has taken $1,018,901,000 over the summer since its early July release and is the most successful in the franchise.
The first ‘Despicable Me’ hit cinemas in 2010 and amassed a respectable $543 million, which was pretty good going considering it was a brand new, unheard of franchise hitting the animation scene. 2013 saw the release of ‘Despicable Me 2′. It quickly surpassed the original and took just under a billion dollars, with a total of $971 million, affirming it as one of the year’s biggest grossers.
‘Minions’ hones in on the mega success of the first two and goes all-out to get children into cinemas, while retaining a fundamental cuteness that can not only entice adults, but invites impressionable, developing children to engage with the on-screen action. The minions are cute in the most basic, simplified style. No fine physical details to distract one from their devilish personalities. Just yellow beans in goggles and overalls.
The fact that its stars - Stuart, Kevin, and Bob - can barely utter a coherent word between them seems to have worked in the film’s favour. Not only do their funny sounding utterances make audiences of all ages laugh, it seems to resonate strongly with little kids, serving as a viable form of entertainment where developing minds can follow a simple, easy to understand narrative.
Summer holidays have always proven a good time to release movies aimed at bored kids who have driven parents up the wall for weeks on end, so is likely one reason for its July and August surge. And for adults who, admittedly, have no idea what they’re saying, the three dungaree-wearing misfits are amusing and visually adorable enough to capture their imaginations, too.
Plenty of Appeal
No doubt as the franchise has grown - and its creators have realized how the yellow odd bods can pull in the adults - the wit and visual comedy has been a big thing grown-ups can latch on to. Sure, on the surface they’re inarticulate blobby ‘things’ to keep kids entertained, but each with their own personalities and some genuinely amusing moments even without the ability to tell verbal jokes, it’s this blend that has proven a winning formula, and something different to Disney’s, Pixar’s, and even DreamWorks’ output.
In truth, people sometimes underestimate the influence and huge audience share that are children. Disney’s ‘Frozen’ targeted youngsters but also managed to grab the attention of adults too. Aiming a film primarily at younger viewers while giving a bit of appeal to older ones doesn’t even feel like a key issue here, mainly because parents will have to take their children to see it anyway, which accounts, in part, to its strong box office performance.
Quite why minions are so popular across the board is, as with most crazes, largely inexplicable, but well targeted to an audience: in this case kids. But subjective appeal, especially in the film world, needs no explanation.
All we can do is choose whether to ignore or embrace ‘minion fever’ because, let’s face it, they’re here to stay.
‘Despicable Me 3′ is in cinemas in summer 2017, with ‘Minions 2′ practically guaranteed to be with us in the coming years.
For some reason, whenever I see the minions, I smell bananas.