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Minions: The Rise of Gru,” the latest animated entry in the family-friendly “Despicable Me” franchise, opened to $10.75 million in Thursday previews from 3,350 theaters in North America. It will expand to 4,391 theaters on Friday.

Heading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” is expected to gross between $65 million and $75 million in its extra-long opening. Those current projections forecast that the fifth entry in the animated franchise is on track for the lowest opening since the original “Despicable Me” picked up $56 million back in 2010. However, the first movie grew on positive word-of-mouth reactions to become a hit with families, ending with $543 million worldwide.

The Thursday “Minions” haul surpassed the numbers for fellow family movies from this year, including Pixar’s “Lightyear,” which opened with $5.2 million in previews, and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” which had $6.3 million in previews. It’s a positive sign that families will be turning out to theaters to see the newest installment of the beloved franchise.

Steve Carell’s lovable supervillain Gru and his horde of yellow minions have been box-office stars since their debut. “Despicable Me 2” opened with $84 million in 2013 and went on to earn $970 million worldwide, while “Despicable Me 3” hit $1 billion from a $72.4 million start in 2017. However, the box-office crown goes to the “Minions” spinoff, which launched with $115 million and ended with $1.1 billion worldwide in 2015. “Minions” also stands at No. 22 on the list of the highest-grossing movies of all time.

A sequel to “Minions” while also a prequel to “Despicable Me,” “Minions: The Rise of Gru” follows a 12-year-old Gru as he grows up in the suburbs idolizing a team of supervillains, voiced by Taraji P. Henson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren and Danny Trejo. With the help of his band of yellow minions, little Gru attempts to join the supervillains’ ranks, but things inevitably go south.

After being delayed two years by the pandemic, “The Rise of Gru” will attempt to unleash the full powers of the “Minions” to get families and children to theaters as it tries to hold off leftover releases like “Elvis,” “Jurassic World Dominion,” “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Lightyear.”

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