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Fourth of July movies: ‘Minions’ and ‘Top Gun’ expected to draw crowds

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Yahoo Finance entertainment reporter Allie Canal breaks down opening weekend forecasts for "Minions: The Rise of Gru", previous July 4th box office records, "Top Gun: Maverick" breaking $1 billion, and previews upcoming summer blockbusters.

Video transcript

RACHELLE AKUFFO: Welcome back, everyone. If you're heading to the movies this holiday weekend, the "Despicable Me" spinoff "Minions" is back just in time. Our very own Alexandra Canal has the details for us. Allie, what do we need to know?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: That's right, Rachelle. Another weekend, another movie release. I like this, guys. It's been a minute since we had a new movie every single week. But "Minions, The Rise of Gru," that will be the true test this 4th of July weekend. The film has already nabbed the best previews for an animated movie of the pandemic era, with nearly $11 million in domestic ticket sales just on Thursday. And to put that number in perspective, that's the highest preview gross for an animated film since "The Lion King" and "Toy Story 4" in summer 2019. So, very strong start.

And because of that, it's widely expected that this will easily secure between $70 to $80 million over the four-day weekend. Possibly more room to run-- we could see $100 million plus. And if we take a look at what you're seeing on your screen now, that's 4th of July box office records over the years. "Despicable Me 3" is on that list. So perhaps we could see "Minions" make the top five or top 10 this weekend.

But it's also an important film when we talk about assessing the appetite for family-friendly movies. We did see "Lightyear" disappoint at the box office over the long Juneteenth weekend. That could have been due to a variety of factors. There were a few controversies surrounding this film, including a same-sex kiss scene. That seems to bleed into the numbers. In its 10th day in theaters, the film has only secured $89 million domestically.

But when it comes to "Minions," they should not have too much to worry about here, especially given the strong start to previews. Analysts that I've spoken with said that there's been a lot of pent-up demand when it comes for animated content and more family-friendly content at the box office. So we'll certainly be watching these numbers closely.

[MUTED]

DAVE BRIGGS: --Maverick, didn't see that coming. Tom Cruise, by the way, turns 60, 6-0, on Sunday. Put that on your calendar, Allie. How much gas, how much fuel does "Maverick" have left?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Oh, yeah, I'm a big Tom Cruise fan, Dave. So I already knew he was turning 60.

DAVE BRIGGS: Well done.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: But yes, the sky is the limit for "Maverick," no pun intended. That film just continues to smash records since its Memorial Day weekend debut, garnering more than $1 billion globally, despite not airing in Russia and China. That is super impressive. "Maverick" ended its fifth week at the domestic box office with a little over $47 million, adding to its grand total of $538.5 million to date. Analysts I've spoken with are bit hesitant to even put a ceiling on this film. It has been a surprise of sorts, considering it just keeps putting up super impressive numbers.

In fact, last week, it almost came out as the number one title of the weekend. "Elvis," though, was able to edge it out just slightly. And that's another film to watch over the holiday. Really positive reviews, beat expectations. And then later on in the summer, we still have some really strong titles on deck, like "Thor, Love and Thunder." We know how those Marvel films do in theaters. So expect some sky high numbers there.

Also, Jordan Peele's "Nope" should be another good industry test when it comes to those mid-budget films. But overall, we seem to be inching closer and closer to normal. We're not there yet, but we're certainly pretty close. And that's a really, really good sign for the box office.

SEANA SMITH: Allie, any idea who's going to the box office? We talk about the fact that the older generation might have been a little bit more hesitant to head to the theaters, given some of those health concerns that they have because we're clearly not out of the pandemic. Do you have any idea about who's actually venturing into the theaters these days?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Yeah, you're right, Seana. That older audience has been hesitant. So it's primarily been driven by young males. However, I do want to say that for the "Elvis" audience, 60% were women over the age of 35. And that's the group that we've sort of been targeting that have been hit slow. So that's a good sign.

So we're seeing as more types of films enter the marketplace, different types of audience members are going out to the theater, are going out to see movies. I know anecdotally, I've been hearing more and more stories about people wanting to see certain titles in the theater. So I think the key here is just offering different types of films.

Yes, those superhero movies are always going to do really well. But what about the romantic comedy? What about those mid-budget films? That's going to be the true test, heading into the rest of this year. And that's why I think "Minions" is so important, too, because we need families to come back. We need moms to bring their kids to the movies. So that's all things that we're watching right now.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: That's true. It certainly is a team effort getting everyone to the movies. Thank you so much, Allie Canal.

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