Who are the #Gentleminions? TikTok trend has theaters canceling shows, banning teens

·4 min read
Illumination Entertainment/AP

Almost 12 years after the animated kids movie Despicable Me first made its debut, the franchise’s iconic protagonists — supervillain Gru and his gang of silly, banana-yellow Minions — are finally having their origin story told in the new film “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”

And along with the film’s premiere on July 1 came an unexpected new audience — teenagers who are showing up in droves to see the movie, all while dressed in suits or other formal attire.

Not all of the young people participating in the trend, however, appear to be on their best behavior, according to movie theaters that have canceled screenings of the movie or banned suit-wearing moviegoers from attending.

The fashion trend, which gained popularity on social media with the hashtag #gentleminions, encourages young adult viewers to come to the movie dressed in formal attire, Variety reported. It’s not clear why or how exactly the trend began, other than to “do it just for fun,” Australian teenager Bill Hirst told the outlet.

Hirst was among one of the first users to create a TikTok participating in the trend, Variety reported.

In his video, dozens of young men are seen wearing suits at a movie theater. They shake each others’ hands, adjust their ties, uniformly ride up an escalator to the theater, wait for the movie to start with folded hands, and then erupt into thunderous cheers when the movie begins.

After the movie, they ride down the escalator in the same uniform fashion and pose for a group photo, the video shows.

The movie came out in Australia before it did in the U.S., giving Hirst and his friends a head start, according to Variety. Hirst said in his TikTok that the movie was a “MUST watch” and that the “anticipation was met.”

When the movie premiered in the U.S. about a week later, it made a bigger impression on slightly older viewers than animated movies typically do, likely because of the trend. About 34% of the movie’s viewers during its opening weekend in the U.S. were between 13 and 17 years old, compared to about 8% for the franchise’s last movie, Despicable Me 3, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The trend was seemingly embraced by Universal Pictures, which acknowledged the phenomenon in a Tweet.

“To everyone showing up to @Minions in suits: we see you and we love you,” the company said.

“The Gentleminions,” the Minions’ verified account responded to their Tweet.

But not all viewers participating in the trend have been well-behaved. Some theaters have gone as far as turning away viewers who show up to the theater in suits, saying that participants in the #gentleminions trend have been shouting, throwing popcorn, mimicking the Minions, or otherwise being disruptive during the movie, Rolling Stone reported.

Some clips on TikTok have even shown young men moshing in front of the movie screen and spilling popcorn on the floor.

The UK was the first country to place restrictions on who could see the movie, according to Rolling Stone. But some theaters in the U.S. have followed suit, according to The Los Angeles Times.

And, according to one TikTok, at least one showing of the film has been shut down by police over the behavior of disruptive young adult viewers. The video, shared by user skydivingaubrey, shows a group of people congregating in front of the screen and jumping around before cutting to a shot of two police cars in the theater’s parking lot.

“I can’t believe we actually got kicked out of a kids movie,” the video’s caption says.

Now, some theaters’ responses to the trend itself are going viral. One Tweet, which has over 65,000 likes, shows a picture taped to the sign of an Odeon Cinemas location, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Due to recent disturbances following the #gentleminions trend, any group of guests in formal attire will be refused entry for showings of Minions: The Rise of Gru,” the sign says.

In spite of such incidents, the movie has smashed box office records, netting an estimated $125 million during its opening weekend, CNN reported.

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