By Pamela McClintock
In another victory for moviegoing in North America, Minions raced to an estimated $115.2 million debut to nab the second-biggest weekend of all time for an animated title, not accounting for inflation.
That includes a $46.2 million Friday, the best opening day in history for an animated film in North America. The victory is all the more sweet, considering Illumination Entertainment and Universal spent $74 million to make the Despicable Me prequel, a relatively modest number for an animated title.
Shrek the Third ($122.5 million) continues to boast the biggest three-day debut of all time, while Minions, playing in 4,301 theaters, beat out Toy Story 3 ($110.3 million). Only one other animated film, Shrek 2 ($108 million), has crossed $100 million in its first weekend.
Watch the 'Minions' trailer:
Overseas, where the prequel began rolling out in select markets two weekends ago, Minions is already a blockbuster, although weekend numbers weren’t immediately available. Through Friday alone, it had earned north of $200 million.
In North America, comparisons to Despicable Me 2 are difficult, since the sequel debuted over the long Fourth of July weekend in 2013, earning $143.1 million for the Wednesday-Sunday stretch, including a three-day take of $83.5 million.
Minions, receiving an A CinemaScore, follows the minions as they attend Villain-Con in Florida and find a new master in Scarlett Overkill, voiced by Sandra Bullock. She’s determined to rule England and soon, the gang all travel to London. The voice cast also includes Pierre Coffin, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan and Geoffrey Rush.
Elsewhere, Blumhouse and Entertainment 360’s micro-budgeted horror film The Gallows opened to an estimated $10 million from 3,376 locations, putting it at No. 5.
The movie, acquired by New Line and Warner Bros., cost under $1 million to make. The film centers on students who resurrect a failed high school play 20 years after a horrific accident in a small town. Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing directed Gallows, which has been skewered by critics and earned a C CinemaScore (not unusual for a horror offering).
Related: 'Minions’: Film Review
This weekend’s third new offering was Gramercy Pictures’ $26 million sci-fi thriller Self/less, starring Ryan Reynolds and directed by Tarsem Singh. The indie movie, from Endgame Entertainment and FilmDistrict, quickly transformed into a box-office disappointment, opening to $5.4 million from 2,353 theaters for an eighth-place finish.
Self/less was made when Peter Schlessel was still running FilmDistrict; once he took over Focus Features, that company took over distribution duties (Gramercy is Focus’ genre division). A good chuck of the movie’s budget was covered through foreign presales.
Also ravaged by critics, Self/less revolves around a dying wealthy man whose consciousness is transformed into the body of a healthy young man.
Watch an interview with 'Minions' star Jon Hamm below: