Minions Climb China's Great Wall Ahead of Release

Universal Pictures

Universal and Illumination Entertainment's animated juggernaut, which just crossed $1 billion in global box office, is expected to do big business in China when it opens Sept. 13.

Universal and Illumination's beloved Minions popped up on the Great Wall of China over the weekend, bringing their infectious brand of box-office-conquering cheer to the world's second-largest movie market. The Despicable Me franchise prequel, Minions, which just crossed $1 billion in global box office, is expected to do big business in China when it opens Sept. 13.

The Minions' photo session atop the country's iconic 2,000-year-old structure was just the first step in Universal's promotional push in China (more photos below). The three yellow, pill-shaped characters next will embark on a road show across the country, meeting and greeting fans at Chinese cinemas. The studio's Beijing-based office also has launched an online campaign called Silly Sunday Challenge, in light of the film's opening on a Sunday. Fans will be invited to dress like Minions, compete in "Minionese" translation contests, mug for Minions-themed videos and more.

Despite a rocky start in China, the Universal franchise has become a fan favorite there. The first Despicable Me film didn't even score a release in the country when it came out in 2010 — for reasons that never were explained, as China's state film regulators seldom share their motives. And Despicable Me 2 was denied an opening slot until seven months after its U.S. premiere, reportedly due to difficulties with a local agent. But the film exceeded expectations and won the weekend when it finally did premiere, eventually grossing $52.9 million during its China run.

A strong, snag-free release for Minions would cap off a huge year for Universal in China. In April, the studio's Furious 7 became the highest-grossing film ever in the country, with $390 million. Jurassic World, meanwhile, pulled in $228 million from China and currently ranks fourth for the year at the local box office.

More of Minions prancing on Han dynasty battle structures below.

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