Welcome to the Rotoscopers Roundtable, a feature in which the Rotoscopers crew takes one question and gives their answers. If you have a question you’d like us to answer, ask it in the comments below!
This time, the question is: As of this writing, ‘Minions’ is the highest-grossing animated film of 2015, and the second-highest grossing animated film of all time. Do you think it deserves that level of success? Why or why not?
(Shoutout to Brandon Smith for suggesting the question!)
Although I’m a big fan of ‘Despicable Me,‘ I’ve never quite loved the Minions as much as everyone else. In fact, I think their popularity really hurt the second movie. Those weird Minion interludes frequently stopped the movie’s story and I found them jarring.
But, given their popularity, I wasn’t surprised with the success of the stand-alone movie. This might be the most successful spin-off of all time! Do I think it deserves this? Every movie that crosses a billion dollars in the box office deserves its success, whether it’s ‘Return of the King,’ ‘Toy Story 3,’ or ‘Transformers 4.’ You don’t get those numbers unless something in your movie connects with A LOT of people. So it deserves it, all right.
But if it was up to me, ‘Toy Story 3’ would still be the highest grossing animated movie of all time. Also, let me give a shoutout to ‘Inside Out,’ which had the biggest opening weekend for an original movie, animated or not, in history.
From an objective standpoint, I would say that ‘Minions’ definitely deserves every dollar it’s making. Illumination’s executives and the filmmakers behind the film made a lot of really smart business decisions when they were putting together the film. They took a look at the public’s reactions to ‘Despicable Me’ and saw that the most popular characters, by a long shot, were the Minions. Why not make a full-length movie about the most popular characters? The filmmakers also did a good job of tapping into two genres that have a long history of being financially successful: physical comedy and James Bond-style action. ‘Minions’ is the result of a chain of really smart business moves, and, from that standpoint, ‘Minions’ totally deserves the success it’s enjoying.
Personally, I wasn’t the biggest fan of ‘Minions.’ There were funny moments (like the bank-robbing family; now THEY need a spin-off movie!), and I loved the ’60s setting, but, overall, it was a little too goofy and manic for my taste. If I had my druthers, the highest-grossing animated movie of 2015 would be ‘Shaun The Sheep,’ and ‘Toy Story 3’ would forever rule as the highest-grossing animated film of all time. That’s just my opinion, though. I don’t begrudge ‘Minions’ its success at all!
I loved the first ‘Despicable Me;’ it was brimming with wacky characters and humor. Sadly, though, I didn’t care too much for the sequel or ‘Minions.’ They had their moments but lacked the magic spark that the first film possessed. That is what I took away from the movies, anyway. Does ‘Minions’ deserve the level of success it has gained so far? Sure; there are probably hundreds of people behind this film that gave it their best during the process, and they deserve the success. ‘Minions’ was charming and cute, but a small part of me wishes that ‘Minions’ was of the same caliber that ‘Toy Story 3’ had.
I’ll admit it, when I first heard the news, I was infuriated. Out of all the movies that came out this summer THIS is the one that made the most?
But after a while, I realized that it’s just numbers. The movie made a lot of money; good for the hardworking people at Illumination Entertainment. Their families won’t go hungry anytime soon and they deserve it.
Well, back to the numbers thing, just because a movie makes a lot of money does not mean that it is better than other films. Just look at ‘How to Train your Dragon 2,’ just because it made less money than ‘Big Hero 6‘ doesn’t mean it is worse than ‘Big Hero 6,’ does it?
What I’m trying to get across is that people kind of think that the highest grossing films should be reserved for the best films, but that simply is not the case. Any film can be extremely successful under the proper conditions. I suppose the only problem is that Illumination Entertainment will probably decide to stay in their comfort zone of making what are -in my opinion- only average films.
I don’t know really know how to answer this question, because my initial reaction is a definite “No” but that’s really just my own personal opinion, and my opinion is quite biased. Movies that I would consider worthy of ‘Minions’ amounts of money are ones that are works of art in some way that sticks with me long after I left the theater, and ‘Minions’ is not that kind of movie.
‘Minions’ is not a bad movie. I thought it was pretty funny, and generally a good time. I went with my cousins and one of my cousin’s two kids, and everyone loved it. ‘Minions’ was able to appeal to a group ranging from their early to mid 30s all the way down to toddler age, and hold everyone’s attention the whole time. ‘Minions’ has found a way to appeal to people of all ages in a way that most movies, even far more worthy ones, have not.
In the end, the amount of money that ‘Minions’ makes is probably just a reflection on how many times that people were willing to go back to the theater with their little kids because there weren’t that many other options. People like going to the movies with their kids, and when something comes along that entertains everyone, down to the littlest kids, they’re probably going to go back more than once.
‘Minions’ may have been able to capture the box office this summer, but will it have the staying power of something like ‘Beauty and the Beast‘ or ‘Sleeping Beauty?’ In 20 years, when people look back on the classics that came out of this era of animation, are they going to remember ‘Inside Out’ or ‘Minions?’ ‘Minions’ may be remembered as a movie that topped the box office, but ‘Inside Out’ will be remembered as a movie that touched people’s hearts in a way that ‘Minions’ will never be able to do.
It’s sad that something with a message as beautiful as ‘Inside Out’ can’t be rewarded financially as well as ‘Minions,’ but most true art is never as financially rewarding as something that appeals to the lowest common denominator. And I guess that, in that way, money really isn’t the point.
Max Den Hartog:
Did ‘Minions’ deserve the level of success it has achieved? I don’t think that’s up to me. While I would much prefer to see a more intelligent, original movie that I personally enjoyed more, like ‘Inside Out,’ make it to the billion dollar club, at the end of the day, the film made it to this place because people decided to buy a ticket to see it. Illumination Entertainment is a smaller studio compared to Disney or Pixar, so I’m very pleased to see that they have some huge success with the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise, but this success also worries me, because it will only mean that we’re going to get more ‘Despicable Me’ and ‘Minions’ content and far less original content from the studio (like ‘Secret Life of Pets‘) which I would be more interested in.
At this point, Minions is more or less compelling to me as an extreme case study of animation and its place within pop culture phenomena than as just a film on its own. The loud, vocal, and reactionary response to its success (especially within the animation community) is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. In a time where animation in the US is finally starting to become something more than just a sideshow for the little crowd, a film like Minions drawing a response this heated from multiple circles and the testimonies thrown back in forth (both for and against the film) only speaks to the ongoing argument for animation’s legitimacy and respect as a medium and is simply fascinating to watch from an observatory standpoint.
Are there other animated films out there that are more deserving of the success that Minions achieved? Yes. But at the same time, Illumination Entertainment should receive at least a small percentage of praise for their efforts in getting to that place. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, they are the masters of a well-oiled marketing campaign. It also helped that the titular minions were already popular to begin with. All they needed to do was simply use their pop culture status to elevate the film and ‘sell itself’ to audiences worldwide, which they did. They don’t have the Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks brand recognition behind them, but when they caught lightning in a bottle with the first Despicable Me, they wasted no time with using that to build their own name recognition and that’s something to be impressed by (at the very least).
That being said, I genuinely believe that at some point, be it sooner or later, that Illumination Entertainment’s luck will run out. You can only get by on the popularity of your ‘mascot’ characters and the strength of your marketing for so long. Eventually, the middling reviews for each film will start to effect their box office outcome. And as more animation companies step into the fold and (hopefully) put out more films like How to Train Your Dragon 2, The LEGO Movie, and Inside Out, Illumination might have to face a realization one day: that their command of plot and storytelling will need just as much attention as everything else.