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Box Office: ‘Minions’ Eyes Massive $100 Million-Plus Debut

Kids really love those mischievous yellow critters.

Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s “Minions” should score one of the year’s top openings, with the family film on pace to pull in $100 million and change in its opening weekend. That would make the “Despicable Me” spinoff the fourth film this year to debut to north of $100 million Stateside, something only two films achieved throughout all of 2014.

Universal is being more conservative, insisting it will be happy if the film matches or tops “Despicable Me 2’s” $83.5 million debut in 2013. The studio did not release a final theater count.

Overseas, “Minions” is already racking up big bucks, earning more than $125 million since opening last month in several foreign markets.

“I’d be surprised if this isn’t the next member of our billion-dollar global club,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.

If it reaches that rarefied space, “Minions” will be the fourth film this year to hit that pinnacle. In a sign of how well-stocked Universal is, three of those four films will be from the studio, the other two having been “Furious 7” and “Jurassic World.” Prior to 2015, no film in Universal’s history had ever cracked $1 billion globally.

It also demonstrates Chris Meledandri’s importance to the studio after “Despicable Me” and “Despicable Me 2” grossed nearly $1.5 billion combined. His films are surprisingly economical in an age where animated fare routinely carries pricetags of $100 million or more. “Minions” cost $74 million to produce.

There is more competition for the family dollar than analysts initially expected there would be on this weekend. “Inside Out,” the critically adored Pixar release, continues to pack them in, having earned $250 million and counting at the North American box office.

“I think there’s enough room for both films to succeed,” said Contrino.

Not everyone will experience such an accommodating environment. The success of “Minions” will overshadow some other newcomers. Focus Features will roll out “Self/Less,” a science-fiction thriller with Ryan Reynolds, in roughly 2,400 theaters to the tune of $6 million.

With “Minions” dominating the family market, Warner Bros. will also try to offer up some counterprogramming for the older set, debuting the found footage horror film “The Gallows,” across 2,720 theaters, where it should generate roughly $10 million. The film, which is produced by New Line, Entertainment 360, and Blumhouse Productions, cost less than $2 million to produce.

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