Everyone knows that the summer of 2015 is going to be crazy. Marvel is releasing a new Avengers film, DC is pitting Batman against Superman and a little known space opera is set to reboot for a new generation, but no-one really knows much about that.
With this in mind, it’s bizarre that Universal have chosen to move Despicable Me spin-off Minions from its late 2014 slot right into the midst of the summer 2015 insanity. Its new 10th July release date puts it in the week after Terminator 5 and Independence Day 2 and a week before Batman vs Superman.
The logic is obvious. Despicable Me 2 grossed more than $850m from a July release, so Minions should have no problem hoovering up business. This, however, means Universal could well be hoisted by their own petard.
The Despicable Me franchise is the centrepiece of young company Illumination Entertainment, who also produced mild hits The Lorax and Hop. This year, the sequel was the second highest grossing movie of the summer, beaten only by the box office behemoth Iron Man 3. Thus, it’s perfectly understandable that Universal think Minions can hold its own in the competitive summer slot and it also gives them a few more months to get the film into shape.
More people go to the cinema in the summer; that much is true. But summer 2015 is a packed couple of months and I’m not sure that Minions will be able to do that well, and certainly not as well as it would’ve done in December 2014. Granted, it would’ve then had to compete with the final movie of The Hobbit, but one group of dwarves is preferable to superheroes, killer robots and explosions.
Put simply, the summer 2015 release is going to cost Minions money. Whilst it will be the only child-orientated film out at the time, the huge volume of 12A-skewed blockbusters will give them plenty to watch that isn’t animated. Whilst Minions would’ve cleaned up in any other summer season, it’s out of place in the middle of the biggest blockbuster crush in living memory.
It’s frankly astounding that Universal has the arrogance to schedule their film like this. The summer 2015 slot has been deemed so scary that even the juggernaut that is Pirates of the Caribbean has run away to emptier times. Minions will still make money and won’t flop because its little yellow men are amongst the best comic creations of the new millennium.
However, in a bid to put itself in there with the big boys, Universal have scored an enormous own goal with the new Minions release date. They could’ve had a $1bn movie, but now it’ll be lucky to do the $540m that the original film managed.