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Box Office: ‘Minions’ Opening Could Reach Record $118 Million

UPDATE: “Minions” is heading for a powerful performance at the U.S. box office with a whopping $118 million opening weekend, according to late Friday afternoon forecasts.

Earlier Friday estimates had placed the 3D animated slapstick comedy at about $110 million, but that number was revised upwards several hours later. “Minions” showed plenty of punch in Thursday night previews with $6.2 million at 2,985 U.S. locations — the highest preview gross ever for an animated film and the revised estimates showed an impressive $45 million Friday total, including the preview gross.

Recent forecasts earlier this week for the Universal-Illumination Entertainment movie have estimated 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” ($147 million), “Avengers: Age of Ultron” ($191 million) and “Jurassic World” ($208.8 million).

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.

Should the forecasts hold, “Minions” will become the second best animated opener in the U.S.  The record for an animated film opening weekend is “Shrek the Third’s” $121.6 million in 2007, followed by “Toy Story 3’s″ $110.3 million in 2010.

“Minions” has crossed the $200 million mark internationally from 43 markets after opening in 18 international new markets on Wednesday and Thursday. France opened with $6.2 million in two days, and Russia launched with $3.8 million Thursday — setting records for top opening day for Universal titles in those markets.

“Minions” is written by Brian Lynch, directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, and produced by Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy. Sandra Bullock heads the voice cast as the villainous Scarlett Overkill.

With a relatively modest $74 million pricetag, “Minions” will be enormously profitable for Universal.

A trio of holdovers will battle for the second slot in the U.S. — Disney-Pixar’s fourth weekend of “Inside Out,” Universal’s fifth frame of “Jurassic World” and Paramount’s sophomore weekend of “Terminator Genisys.”

Inside Out” was leading forecasts with $14 million, followed by “Jurassic World” with $13 million. That would push “Inside Out” past $280 million domestically by the end of the weekend, while the dino thriller should eclipse $585 million in the U.S.

Warner Bros.’ found-footage horror film “The Gallows” took in $900,000 in Thursday night previews. Produced by microbudget specialist Jason Blum and Entertainment 360, “The Gallows” opens at 2,720 theaters, where it should materialize with a weekend around $11 million.

Gramercy’s sci-fi thriller “Self/Less,” starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley, grossed $325,000 at 1,600 theaters in previews — a sign that the film has little traction as it goes into 2,353 theaters Friday. Early forecasts showed a Friday gross in the $1.2 million range and a paltry weekend total of about $3.1 million — far below already modest projections of $6 million.

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