The hype machine that turned Minions into a $4 billion juggernaut

Was eight days since then Minions: The Rise of Gru premiere, and American theaters still haven’t recovered. Gru– thousands of visitors arrived, many wearing formal suits, cheering loudly and occasionally throwing bananas at the screen in celebration of this year’s most incredible hit at the box office. The only thing that’s been watched more than the movie itself in the past week might be the hundreds of TikToks and tweets made about it.

The rise of Gru is the fifth film in the Minions franchise, which began with Despicable Me 2010. The plot focuses on Gru, an 11-year-old with a vague Russian accent, who recruits a team of minions in a quest to become a supervillain. Gru is the main character, but really, the movie is about minions — a type of fluffy yellow blobs, whose origins were explored in 2015. minions, the third installment of the franchise. They speak in bubbly gibberish (a random mix of French, English, Spanish, and Italian), dress almost exclusively in denim, and inject the movies with the kind of slapstick comedy that made them popular with kids for a decade.

Minions-mania, then, is nothing new. The first four films grossed more than $3.5 billion worldwide at the box office, making it the highest-grossing animated film franchise of all time. But even those movies pale in comparison Rise of Gru, which catapulted the franchise’s global earnings past the $4 billion mark and blew the internet with such an addictive hype that even people who had never seen Despicable Me they became part of the #minionskult.

For some, this is pure random chaos. One video explains #minionscult as a sort of viral challenge to “take over TikTok” with banana emojis and matching profile pictures. Of course, random chaos is exactly what minions do best. In one movie, they use their vast lab resources to build a fart gun. Because why not! The TikToker who started the trend, who goes by the name @HutchBucketz, just wanted to see if Universal Pictures would invite him to the premiere The rise of Gru if it generated enough popularity. (Unfortunately, the studio did not.)

Others, many of them young people who grew up with the franchise, have banded together around another trend. This includes turning up at the cinemas en masse, wearing formal clothes and giving a gentlemanly greeting to Gru. Last weekend, the presence of these #GentleMinions became so pronounced that at least one theater in the UK put up a sign warning that they would not allow patrons wearing a suit and tie to enter. Universal has since been released tweet saying “to everyone who shows up on @Minions in suits: we see you and we love you.”

Ryan Broderick, who writes the Junk Day newsletter on Substack, suggested that #GentleMinions may have appeared as a reference to an earlier meme about the 2019 film. joker, where people posted pictures of incel-like men with the caption “two tickets to joker, please.” Young people dressed in suits and asking for “30 million tickets to Minions” feels like a riff on an old trend.

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