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The Minions went bananas at the box office this weekend.

Illumination’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” — the latest animated film in the Despicable Me franchise — made an estimated A$182 million in the US for its four-day opening weekend, according to Universal.

That gives the film the record for biggest opening over the July 4th holiday weekend, overtaking “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” which made A$167 million in 2011.

In Australia, Minions: The Rise of Gru was also the biggest film over the weekend, taking $8.2 million at the box office and coming in well ahead of both Elvis and Top Gun.
Minion characters Kevin, left, and Bob pose on the 86th floor observatory deck at the Empire State Building to celebrate the new Minions film.
Minion characters Kevin, left, and Bob pose on the 86th floor observatory deck at the Empire State Building to celebrate the new Minions film. (AP)

The opening is being seen as a huge shot in the arm for theatres in the US.

The industry has been anxiously waiting to see if families — who have been somewhat reluctant to bring their children to the movies during the pandemic — would return to theatres.

While there have been family-friendly hits such as “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” this question became more pressing after Disney’s and Pixar’s “Lightyear” flopped at the box office last month.

This image released by Universal Pictures shows characters, from left, Kevin, Gru, voiced by Steve Carell, and Stuart in a scene from "Minions: The Rise of Gru."
This image released by Universal Pictures shows characters, from left, Kevin, Gru, voiced by Steve Carell, and Stuart in a scene from “Minions: The Rise of Gru.” (AP)

But the performance of “Minions” shows that not only do families want to come back, but they’ll come back in large numbers for the right film.

“Families want to be in theaters,” Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic theatrical distribution, told CNN Business. “They want the social event of it all.”

Why “Minions” did well is likely a mixture of good reviews (it holds a 71 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes), being the next installment in a franchise that’s made roughly A$5.8 billion worldwide — and possibly even TikTok, after the social media site created a viral trend that had moviegoers dress up in formal wear to see the film.

“Minions” was originally set for release in 2020, but was delayed multiple times due to the pandemic. While other family films decided to go to streaming, Universal held “Minions” for theatres — a strategy that paid off handsomely this weekend.

“A knockout performance by ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ may not have been guaranteed, given the less-than-stellar results for some recent family films,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, told CNN Business. “But the undeniable appeal of those silly Minions contained in a perfectly executed movie-theatre-only confection was pure cinematic catnip for kids and parents.”

Now, theatres hope to keep the hot streak going as they prepare for what could be one of the biggest films of the year: “Thor: Love and Thunder.” The latest Marvel film, which has Chris Hemsworth reprise his role as the God of Thunder, hits theatres this week.

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