Variety reports that Universal Pictures has once again delayed two of its upcoming summer tent-polls. While F9 was given one month extra, Illumination’s long-delayed Minions: The Rise of Gru had the biggest pushback of the two, now rescheduled a full year later to July 1, 2022.
Originally intended for a summer release last year, the Minions sequel/Despicable Me prequel had already been postponed by one year in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was due to the Paris-based Illumination Mac Guff animation unit suspending production while in France’s nationwide lockdown. Now with its second major reschedule, this appears to be more about Hollywood scrambling to position its blockbusters carefully during the vaccination era.
Just like Minions: The Rise of Gru, F9 previously had a one-year delay to Memorial Weekend 2021 and has now been reassigned a month later to June 25, 2021. The ninth main entry in the Fast & Furious series currently stands head to head with Sony Pictures’ superhero sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
It’s clear that Universal wants to ensure that F9 remains its summer tent-poll of 2021 while also giving time for more potential audiences to be vaccinated. However, given how Minions: The Rise of Gru had previously been assigned with a similar date just one week later, Universal would have potentially cannibalised two of its biggest franchises, so the Minions sequel had to be sacrificed for this summer in order to ensure it has a successful summer 2022 run.
One fascinating observation is that Sing 2, the Illumination sequel which was initially intended to be released after Minions: The Rise of Gru, was not moved from its Christmas 2021 date. Though no explanation was provided, it’s my belief that Illumination wants to maintain season tradition with their franchises, with the first Sing gaining a successful winter 2016 run, and each Despicable Me entry being reserved for summer.
With Despicable Me currently the biggest animated film franchise, grossing a combined $3.7 billion over its five movies, Universal is potentially sitting on a yellow gold mine with this Minions sequel. With that said, it makes logical sense trying to maintain a summer release for guaranteed franchise success rather than use the studio’s newly-established 17-day window between cinema and digital release. But releasing seven years after the first Minions movie, and five years after the previous main entry Despicable Me 3, it remains to be seen if interest in the franchise and the Minion craze will still be around after such a long wait, especially with the intended children demographic potentially growing out the series.
Universal’s two DreamWorks Animation releases of 2021 remain unaltered, with Spirit Untamed set for June 4, and The Boss Baby: Family Business releasing on September 17. MGM’s The Addams Family 2, which Universal is distributing internationally, still maintains its October 1, 2021 slot.
Please visit our Animation Calendar for the current schedule of upcoming mainstream animated features.
Let us know in the comments how you feel about Minions: The Rise of Gru being delayed yet another year, and if you’re still interested in seeing the sequel after waiting for so long.
Edited by: Kelly Conley