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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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