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Box Office: ‘Minions’ Brings in Sizable $6.2 Million on Thursday

Minions” grossed a sizable $6.2 million at 2,985 U.S. locations in Thursday night preview shows that started at 6 p.m.

That’s 26% above the Thursday night take for 2013’s “Despicable Me 2,” which earned $4.7 million from latenight shows that began at 7 p.m. It’s also the highest preview gross ever for an animated film.

The Universal-Illumination Entertainment animated comedy is expected to pull in at least $100 million in its opening weekend at 4,302 locations. That will make the “Despicable Me” spinoff the fourth film this year to debut above the $100 million mark — joining “Furious 7,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Jurassic World.”

The first “Despicable Me” opened with a $56.3 million weekend in 2010 and went on to finish with $251 million in the U.S., while the sequel launched with $83.5 million in 2013 on its way to a $368 million domestic total.

The record for an animated film opening weekend is 2007’s “Shrek the Third” with $121.6 million, followed by 2010’s “Toy Story 3” with $110.3 million.

Minions” has already hauled in more than $141 million in less than three weeks in foreign markets. With a $74 million pricetag, it’s going to be enormously profitable for Universal.

“Minions” was originally supposed to hit theaters on Dec. 19, 2014, but was moved into this summer for promotional reasons.

“Minions” will face its most stringent competition from a pair of box office heavyweights — Disney-Pixar’s fourth weekend of “Inside Out” and Universal’s fifth frame of “Jurassic World” — as well as Paramount’s sophomore weekend of “Terminator Genisys.” That trio of holdovers battled for supremacy over the Fourth of July weekend, with “Inside Out” winning narrowly with $29.8 million.

Warner Bros.’ found footage horror film “The Gallows” took in $900,000 in Thursday night previews. The microbudget entry opens at 2,720 theaters, where it should materialize with a weekend around $10 million.

Focus Features’ scif-fi thriller “Self/Less,” starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley, grossed $325,000 at 1,600 theaters in previews. The film goes into 2,353 theaters Friday and is forecast for a $6 million weekend.

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