Box-Office preview: 'Minions' could match 'Toy Story 3' with $110M U.S. debut

Minions Movie World Premiere

After a ho-hum Fourth of July, Minions is expected to boost the North American box office this weekend with one of the biggest three-day debuts of all time for an animated film, not accounting for inflation.

The Despicable Me spinoff is tracking to open in the $100 million-$110 million range in another win for Illumination Entertainment and Universal, especially considering the movie cost $74 million to produce, a modest number for an animated tentpole.

The current record-holder for the biggest three-day animated opening is Shrek the Third ($122.5 million), followed by Toy Story 3 ($110.3 million). Only one other animated film, Shrek 2 ($108 million) has crossed $100 million in its first weekend.

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 starts out by recounting the history of the popular, mischievous yellow creatures whose sole purpose is to serve the world's worst villains. When they find themselves without a master, they decide to attend Villain-Con in Florida, where they meet Scarlett Overkill, voiced by Sandra Bullock.

The supervillian instructs her new henchmen to steal St. Edward's crown from the Tower of London, but all sorts of trouble ensues when the Minions learn the crown is on its way to Buckingham Palace. The voice cast also includes Pierre Coffin, Jon Hamm,Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan and Geoffrey Rush.

Minions has already begun rolling out overseas for a rousing early foreign total of $125.1 million through July 5. It scored the biggest opening day for an animated film in Germany, Spain, Argentina and Colombia. It is doing huge business in the U.K., where it grossed $32.7 million in its first 10 days after nabbing the biggest opening weekend of all time for an animated film.

This weekend, Minions opens in 25 additional foreign markets, including France, Mexico and Russia.

In North America, Minions will easily top the chart. Neither of the two other new openers, Gallows and indie offering Self/Less, are anticipating huge starts. Warner Bros. is releasing Gallows, a horror film, on behalf of New Line and Blumhouse, while Focus Features is handling Self/Less, a sci-fi thriller directed by Tarsem and starring Ryan Reynolds, Matthew Goode and Ben Kingsley.

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