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Is ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ a Genuine Hit or a Viral TikTok Joke?

Minions: Rise of Gru is this weekend’s box office champion, earning over $125 million over the holiday weekend. Some TikTok users want to take credit for the film’s success.

At this point, Minions are an inescapable fact of life. Their strange little yellow bodies are everywhere, especially on social media. Boomers post Minions memes to Facebook and the young people on TikTok are completely obsessed with them to a degree that is both surprising and strangely sweet. In fact, they are going so far as to dress up in formal wear and gather in large groups to see the movie in person.

All of these TikToks feature a clip of a song on the Rise of Gru soundtrack: “Rich Minions” by the artist Yeat, who has primarily achieved his success via TikTok. 

Finding the exact origin point of the meme is pretty difficult at this point due to how much it has exploded on the platform. Major influencers who post most of their content off the platform, like YouTube’s MrBeast, have also gotten in on the trend.

If you are old enough to remember flash mobs, this trend shouldn’t be too surprising. Young people have used the internet to coordinate stupid stunts since the internet became widely available to them. There’s not a huge amount of distance between #gentleminions, as the trend has been dubbed, and Improv Everywhere.

What’s harder to understand is the actual impact of this trend on the box office. While at least one theater has tried to deny entry to teenagers wearing formalwear because of their rambunctiousness. Some TikTokers are even taking credit for Rise of Gru’s box office success.

There’s simply not enough information to say that this box office is a result of the memes on TikTok. The first movie featuring Minions in them, Despicable Me, earned over $500 million in theaters, with a $50 million opening weekend. The 2015 Minions movie had an opening weekend of $115 million. 

Rise of Gru being a box office hit was the safest bet of this year. This franchise has been a cash cow from release to release, and has been overwhelmingly popular with both children and adults for over a decade. It’s worth noting that Rise of Gru also had a marketing budget of $285 million. Besides, we have another meme-marketing trend to compare this too in Morbius, which paints a more pessimistic picture of what effect memes have on movies. After Morbius was brought back to theaters following the viral memes about the film, it flopped for a second time.

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