Last weekend, group chats of aspiring young male fashionistas all across America buzzed with activity, as they exchanged their best #menswear fit picks and made plans to meet at the movie theater. But these mad lads weren’t off to see Top Gun: Maverick, or Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, or even Elvis. They were seeing Minions: The Rise of Gru.
This fifth entry in the Despicable Me canon earned a staggering $125 million over the July 4th long weekend, thanks in large part to a wave of teenage boys and young men who grew up on the franchise (the first Despicable Me came out in 2010) and bonded over their Gru-stalgia via the TikTok trend #GentleMinions. As detailed by The Hollywood Reporter, The exponentially imitated hashtag featured videos of young male fans, identically dressed in dark suits that matched the film’s titular junior supervillain’s own fastidious garb, filing into the theater in an orderly line.
The Reporter notes that 34 percent of the movie’s opening weekend attendance came from people between 13 and 17, which is significantly higher than show up for the usual animated film, let alone this series: In 2017, that age group only accounted for eight percent of the opening of Despicable Me 3. Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution, told THR that ”This is what happens when a generation grows up with a franchise.”
The fifth entry in the Despicable Me franchise, Rise of Gru first gained attention online for an absolutely stacked soundtrack of ‘70s covers, featuring the likes of Brockhampton, Phoebe Bridgers, Tierra Whack, and Gen Z whisperer Yeat, whose new song “Gentle Minions” brags, “I made a song for the Minions / How much they paid me? A million.” Cole Bennett also helped fuel teens’ obsession, with a modified trailer that has been viewed more than 3.2 million times on YouTube since being posted on June 28. And Bennett’s Lyrical Lemonade released a line of Minions collaborative merch, including a $300 letterman jacket that honestly kinda rocks. (Both Lyrical Lemonade and Minions rely on a yellow-and-blue color scheme, so the synergy there is obvious.)
Variety spoke to several young #Gentleminions early adopters around the world, who explained that they had seen a few videos on the app and decided to try it themselves, often encountering other similarly-attired groups at the very same screening. “I feel like some people genuinely think that teenage boys are going out of their way to see the movie just to wear suits,” Maryland teen Obie told Variety. “Maybe some people are doing that. But I’m sure a majority of people in my generation–because we grew up with the Despicable Me movies–now have nostalgia and enough money to see it on our own,”. “We’ll be inclined to do so in our own way. It’s funny to see how that turns into such a big trend.”