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Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Bee-Do Bee-Do Big Can 'Despicable Me' Be?

     Bee-do, bee-do, bee-do, attention all, its about that time! Despicable Me 2, the new animated sequel from Universal and Illumination, is just days from release. If you haven't seen Despicable Me, you live under a rock - unless you're Patrick Star. He's seen it. If you haven't heard of the Minions, you don't live on Earth. The Minions could be called the "new Spongebob". They're yellow, they have big eyes, they're popular and they're on half of the products in Walmart. So is Despicable Me 2 the second coming of animated movies?
     Despicable Me was the sleeper hit of 2010; the Minions, Gru, and Agnes soon became worldwide phenomenons. Universal realizes the appeal and potential of the Minions so they've set a 2014 release date for their spin-off movie, and they've marketed the heck out of Despicable Me 2. It has scored over $254 million in marketing tie-ins, one of the biggest of all time. So is the awareness there? Oh yes. The thing about the Minions is they're so easy. They're simple happy go lucky "beans" with big eyes which makes them easy to slap on bags, boxes, and containers. There's even a "Despica-blimp" flying around America - the first time a studio has used an airship to advertise.
       Animated movies are tricky. They're stereotyped as "only for kids", just like cartoons. Animated movies usually do big at the BO, but when you think about it, half of its money is coming from parents who had to bring their kids, which gives animated movies a leg up over say PG-13, since most teenagers are too hip to be seen at the cineplex with mom and dad. Possibly the biggest advantage DM2 has is its adult appeal. Not just kids, but teens and adults also love the Minions (I know 40 year olds excited for this, yall). Go ahead and call them annoying, you're a minority. Like I said, "new Spongebob". People call Mr. Squarepants annoying, but does that stop him from being the #1 cartoon character of the 21st century? Nope. And can he be #1 if he's only adored by kids? Not even. The Minions have had commercials during high-rated sports programs, they have a Progressive commercial, which for those of you that don't know, Progressive is car insurance, and considering kids can't drive, it's meant to appeal to adults, and they already have their own ride at Universal Studios Orlando. What great and smart product placement.
     Why was Shrek 2 the biggest animated movie of all time? And still is. After 9 years. And why was Shrek big enough to start it all? A big reason is likely that CG animation was still in its infancy and not saturated back in '01 and '04, but another big player was the adult appeal. Shrek and Shrek 2 had many jokes for kids, like fart jokes, but also many jokes for adults that flew right over kids' heads, like celebrity references. Shrek's heavy reliance on pop culture and adult humor brought adults in in droves and Despicable Me utilized the same style, hence a reason why many people are calling it the the next Shrek.
     I believe that Despicable Me 2 will be the biggest animated movie between Toy Story 3 and Finding Dory (I think FD will be the movie to dethrone Shrek 2). Universal's A+ marketing, the universal appeal of the Minions and Gru (see what I did there?), adult appeal, perfect release date, 3D, and a lackluster looking July could drive Despicable Me 2 to at least $350 million and huge numbers overseas. But can it hit $400 million? It's hard to call, and pretty tough, but again considering that all ages admitted are excited for this and and the positive responses for Despicable Me, even on home video, it could. I'm going to stick with $350 million to play it safe, but if the Minions cruise past that, its gravy to me. The movie is already trampling records in the UK and other countries and if they are any indication, Despicable Me 2 is in for a wild lofty run. And I leave you with this.

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