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How the Minions became a global phenomenon

It may be hard to imagine a world without the Minions, but this was the reality for everyone over twelve years ago. Whether you despise or adore them, the Minions have succeeded in taking over the world. If it’s not in new movies or commercials, then the Minions will be cropping up in merchandise and other mediums.

There is no escaping these yellow creatures and no denying just how big they have gotten. In just over twelve years, the Minions have transcended the Despicable Me film series and arguably become even more prominent than these movies with countless spin-offs.

The Minions are so popular that you can enter literally any store and find a product with at least one Minion on it. Amazingly, the sidekicks became bigger than the main characters and even ended up with their own franchise. This is an incredible feat that no other movie sidekick has managed to achieve.

Evidently, this shows just how big the Minions are and that they have in fact become a global phenomenon – but how exactly did this happen? What did the creators of the Minions manage to do that no other company in Hollywood could?

Humble beginnings

It’s time to journey back to a world without the Minions in 2010. Illumination Entertainment was looking to make a splash within the animation industry and set its sights on releasing its debut film Despicable Me. The company knew that it had to do something out of the ordinary as 2010 was set to become one of the biggest years in animation history with hits such as Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon and Shrek Forever After.

Illumination developed an unusual script that followed a supervillain, named Gru, who adopts three young children whilst trying to steal the moon. Not only was the premise absolutely bonkers, but the directors had a stellar cast with Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett and even Julie Andrews. The film was almost set to be a great success, but the directors still felt like they were missing something.

Naturally, a supervillain needed a group of henchmen to be loyal but also the comedic relief when needed. At first, the creators thought of creating robot minions but decided against this throughout the development process as they realised that they wanted the underlings to be quite naive and innocent. This is how the team settled on the Minions that everyone knows and (mostly) loves today.

With tough competition, Despicable Me still managed to wow audiences as it became the ninth-highest-grossing film of 2010 and was even nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Annie Awards. Whilst the film garnered positive reviews and a lucrative box office return, the Minions were the true stars of the film and completely stole everyone’s attention.

The rise of the Minions

By 2015, the world had welcomed a successful sequel to Despicable Me as well as nine short films with six other short films in production solely starring the Minions. In the span of only five years, the Minions had gone from obscurity to stardom. The Minions even starred in their own solo movie titled Minions.

During the time of release, Minions became the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2015 as well as the tenth-highest-grossing film of all time! The film itself was nothing overly complicated but followed the Minions as they searched for a new master. With a strong cast featuring Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton, Jennifer Saunders and Jon Hamm, there was no way that this film would flop.

If the pandemonium of the Minions wasn’t big enough already, the release of their own solo film sent the fandom into overdrive. This is the moment that the Minions took over the world as there was not a single place in the world that was unaware of the little yellow underlings and their mannerisms.

Global domination

Unlike their master Gru, the Minions did manage to take over the world…the Minions were literally everywhere! From branded clothing to Funko Pops, the Minions had absolutely dominated every little corner of the world. The little creatures even became celebrities within the meme world with dedicated Reddit and Facebook pages followed by thousands of meme aficionados.

Whilst there were many games released under the Despicable Me brand, a huge majority of the video game releases were done with the Minions at the forefront. For example, the most popular video games from the series include Despicable Me: Minion Mania, Despicable Me: Minion Rush and Minions Paradise. All of these games are centred around the Minions rather than Gru and were beloved by fans.

Many other movies tried to replicate the success of the Minions with obvious knock-offs that did not resonate with audiences. From Santa’s Elves in the Rise of the Guardians to the Lemmings in Norm of the North, many animated films after Despicable Me developed their own annoying mascots but completely failed to deliver anything memorable.

Strangely enough, the only knock-off that worked and managed to stand prosperous was Quckspin’s Spinions slot series. The Minions were a clear inspiration for this iGaming series and even led to multiple games such as Spinions Beach Party, Spinions Christmas Party and Spinions Game Day. These games contained yellow creatures that can be both annoying and adorable at the same time – just like the Minions!

The Minions have not reached their limit yet as the series continues to shine with a brand-new Minions movie released recently with Minions: The Rise of Gru. Illumination has even revealed that a fourth Despicable Me film is in the works and scheduled for release in 2024. There is literally no stopping the Minions and you definitely have not seen the last of these yellow creatures.

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