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‘Minions’ hit theaters to take on Elvis, Cruise (NASDAQ:CMCSA)

The box office is expected to look small, yellow — and different this weekend, as an ever-building animation franchise tests the resilience of family movies in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minions: The Rise of Gru (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Universal’s latest prequel in what has become a five-movie series, hits 4,400 screens for the holiday long weekend, and it’s set to become the latest in a string of new releases topping the charts. national revenue.

While films overall have suffered during theatrical closures during the pandemic, family films have struggled more, in part due to more limited approval and availability of vaccines for young children. sonic the hedgehog 2 (PARA) (PARAA) opened to $72m in April – and after scoring $10.75m in previews on Thursday, the new Minions is likely heading for an opening in that same range.

If the rest of the films in his series are any indication, this could prove to be a global cash cow for Universal (CMCSA). the original movie, Despicable Me, grossed $543 million worldwide, Box Office Mojo notes; its sequel grossed $971 million, while the other two films in the series reached worldwide totals of $1.159 billion and $1.035 billion.

First, Minions had to struggle with strong content still in theaters. Elvis (WBD) seeks to maintain activity after the end of its first weekend Top Gun: Maverick (PARA) (PARAA) for box office supremacy, $31.1M to $29.6M – but Tom Cruise in a jet plane proved to have extraordinary staying power.

maverick became the No. 14 national film of all time, grossing $534.5 million Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Next in sight this weekend: The black Knight to $535 million, and The Lion King at $543.6 million.

And as always, film exhibitors are celebrating a busy new season in June-July: AMC Entertainment (AMC); Cineworld (OTCPK: CNNWF); Cinemark (CNK); (IMAX); Marcus (MCS); Reading International (RDI); Cineplex (OTCPK:CPXGF); National Cine Media (NCMI).