Teenagers all over the world, fed on Me, Despicable and Mean, dress up in costume and rush to discover the new production from the Illumination studio at the cinema.
American, English and Australian cinemas were the scene of a strange phenomenon this weekend. Dozens of teenagers in costume – self-proclaimed “GentleMinions”, an association of “gentleman” and “Minions” – came in groups to see The Minions 2: Once Upon a Time Gruthe fifth part of the saga Me, Despicable Me.
In dark rooms, the “GentleMinions” provide the atmosphere, as anime lovers did recently during the preview of Jujutsu Kaisen 0 at the Grand Rex: the Illumination logo is greeted with applause, and the “GentleMinions” watch the movie, borrowing the pose of Mr. Burns in The Simpsons.
“The Minions 2: Once Upon a Time Gru is the best experience I’ve had in my life at the cinema”, explains to BFMTV the twittos @e_possum_. “I really felt like I saw a community forming. I’m quite anxious, so having a lot of people around me can be difficult, but everyone behaved well.”
On social networks, videos featuring the “GentleMinions” are a hit. A video signed mitchtidy has been viewed more than 10 million times on TikTok. Another oneby archie.baker, has 17 million views on the platform.
In both cases, the staging is similar: we see about ten teenagers in costume walking froma determined step towards a cinema. Videos punctuated most often by the song of the popular rapper Yeat Rich Minion, written for the film’s soundtrack. Some children have managed to convince their parents to go there in costume with them.
Students have also appropriated the Minions phenomenon. A video from the adultcollegeman TikTok account shows six friends smuggling 90 kilos of bananas into a cinema to devour in front of the cartoon. A reference to the love of Minions for this fruit. This enthusiasm is reminiscent of that for Morbius with Jared Letoa Marvel production released in the spring and mocked on Twitter using the rallying cry “it’s Morbin’ time”.
“Illumination is the new Pixar”
How to explain this hype around Minions 2? The delays accumulated by the film, which was to be released two years ago, play an important part in this craze. In a video viewed more than 34 million times on TikTok, Australian internet user Bill Hirst thus confides his haste: “We waited for five years [le premier volet des Minions est sorti en 2017, NDLR]. The wait is finally over.”
For Scott Mendelsonjournalist at Forbesthe “GentleMinions” also mark the triumph in pop culture of the likes of Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2010: “That’s what happens when you give children their own franchise and you don’t bombard them with licenses of yesteryear completely worn out,” he explained on Twitter.
“I wonder if this craze for Minions 2 is linked to the fact that Me, Despicable Me came out long enough to inspire nostalgia in the children who discovered it at the time”, wonders the journalist again.
“Nostalgia totally motivated us to go see the film and we were not disappointed”, confirms with BFMTV American TikToker Obieone of whose videos about the Minions met a big hit on Twitter. For cartoon brewa reference site on animation, this phenomenon quite simply marks the advent of the Illumination studio: “We are in 2022 and Illumination is the new Pixar.”
“A pretty great and quite hilarious contrast”
All of the “GentleMinions” contacted for this article by BFMTV confirm that they grew up with the franchise. “I loved Me, Despicable Me when I was younger”, agrees Bill Hirst. “I watched the movies all the time with my family.” “I really like the Minions [parce] that they speak with stupid words and sentences. It is, I find, their strong points to make the public laugh”, adds @NeriIsBack, a French high school student who has been following this series of films “since he was little”. Same story for Obie, who also played the game Despicable Me: Minion Rush on mobile.
But for these young fans, the “GentleMinions” symbolize much more than just a trend on TikTok: “When a lot of people of my generation think of Minions, they think of those annoying memes posted on Facebook by old people”, analyzes the twittos @e_possum_. “I believe that’s part of the joke. The idea behind this move was really basically to ironically reclaim the Minions.” “I don’t know if that was the goal at the start, but that’s what it became,” Obie moderates. “Don’t take this too seriously. It’s just teenage madness.”
This craze for Minions has been strongly maintained by social networks – Twitter and TikTok in particular – thanks to inventive videographers. “I discovered the hype especially on Tiktok where the trend [mode] to dress in costume was very present”, explains to BFMTV the surfer @Metriuum, a French high school student from Dax who will go to a screening of Minions 2 in a costume.
“It seems to me that this hype was born by a series of memes, first by a series of videos on YouTube “X Ticket for Minion: The Rise of Gru“, [puis par] another meme on [le YouTubeur] Fernanfloo where it says “Me at my Wedding” where the person is dressed normally, then “Me going to watch Minion: The Rise of Gru“, where the person is dressed in costume”, he develops.
“As Minions is a children’s film, the fact of wearing costumes for the projection creates a rather brilliant and rather hilarious contrast which also makes fun of this cliché that only children watch animated films”, completes Bill Hirst.
On the strength of this free publicity, the latest installment in the saga of minions logically made a thunderous debut at the worldwide box office, with an estimated receipt of 221.6 million dollars in just three days. Universal, which distributes the latest production from the Illumination studio, hastened to thank the fans for their enthusiasm: “To those who will see Minions 2 in costume: we see you and we love you”, wrote the studio on Twitter.
This phenomenon is not new. It has become common, in the age of the Internet and social networks, to see Internet users taking over a work or characters. But it doesn’t work all the time. The rallying cry “it’s Morbin’ time”, used en masse on Twitter in the spring to make fun of Morbius with Jared Letodid not prevent the last Marvel production, considered a turnip, from flopping.
The “GentleMinions” are not only Anglo-Saxon. In Norway, but also in France, they are emulated. Some fans are even calling for people to go together: “If there are people in Dax on Wednesday July 6, come with us to see the film Minions: The Rise of Gru (Once upon a time Gru in French) in a suit”, launches on Twitter @Metriuum, before adding: “It’s important to be well dressed for a film of this quality.” Many French high school students will join in the game: “Me and a friend are going [nous] go to theaters in a suit to follow the hype because it amused us a lot”, also tells BFMTV the twittos @NeriIsBack.
If this enthusiasm for Minions can make you smile, cinema operators take a dim view of these “GentleMinions”, which have been strongly criticized after leaving rooms covered in popcorn. Some cinemas have now banned them after pogos where “the police had to intervene to empty the room”, reports First. An operator in the city of Worcester in the United Kingdom was notably forced to reimburse 1,300 pounds of tickets after complaints from many spectators, according to information from the DailyMail.
On the island of Guernsey, a group of “GentleMinions” were accused on Monday of vandalism, says the BBC. Mallard Cinema manager Daniel Phillips-Smith said he saw “at almost every screening” groups of teenagers in costumes “throwing things and insulting each other”. “I must have seen at least 100 or 200 of them parade during the weekend”, confides the manager who was forced to reimburse his customers embarrassed by the “GentleMinions”. He preferred to remove from the poster Minions 2 to avoid further overflow.
A situation that Bill Hirst deplores: “It is unfortunate that we have come to this, that a few individuals are spoiling everyone’s fun. We are not doing anything wrong. We just want to watch Minions by dressing well! While it’s great fun to go to the cinema in a group, we all have to remember to be respectful of other spectators. One applause at the start and another at the end is enough.”