Mobs of high school boys are dressing to the nines and flooding movie theaters to watch the latest flick in the “Despicable Me” franchise, leading some theaters to turn away the dapper young gentlemen.
“Minions: The Rise of Gru” — which centers upon the antics of an 11-year-old version of hero Felonious Gru and his playful “minion” allies — earned $125 million in its opening weekend, setting an all-time record for a weekend falling on or around the Fourth of July holiday, according to The Wrap. Young people participating in the “gentleminion” trend appear to have aided the new film.
“High schoolers have been showing up to movie theaters in large groups, donning suits and even smoking cigars as part of an ironic online love for the movie,” Newsweek summarized. “Many even go one step further, moshing and cheering loudly inside the movie theater.”
Footage of the trend has garnered millions of views on social media.
Why Minions is crushing the box office. pic.twitter.com/IsFSW7Tkrf
— Rob Keyes (@rob_keyes) July 3, 2022
— Mr. Worldwide (@FairiesUnite) July 2, 2022
— leviticus (@dramatdc) July 3, 2022
Jim Orr, Universal Pictures president of domestic distribution, could not be more thrilled with the enthusiasm. “The movie is playing to a very broad audience, as well to families and the very young,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
“The audience was more than eager to come out and see this movie,” Orr added. “It is so gratifying to see this sort of box office.”
The skeleton of the “Tickets to X” meme, however, is not new. As Mat Jones of IGN explained, the format centers upon “juxtaposing popular characters with their intent to see a movie which doesn’t necessarily reflect the tone of their own world.” For example, depicting the cast of “Breaking Bad” gathering to view the latest “Barbie” film is “clearly inherently funny.”
Yet not everyone in the movie business is happy with the trend, as reports of theaters banning suit-clad young people from seeing “The Rise of Gru” are also circulating on social media. A spokesperson for British theater company Odeon confirmed to Newsweek that “due to a small number of incidents in our cinemas over the weekend we have had to restrict access in some circumstances.”
— 𝔾𝕚𝕝𝕝 𝔻𝕦𝕕𝕤 (@gillduds) July 3, 2022
Stephen Healy — whose TikTok of his friends attending a showing of “The Rise of Gru” earned over 11 million views — condemned the backlash against the “gentleminions.”
“There wasn’t much reaction if I can recall because we walked into the cinema late because we were too busy filming, but I do remember some laughs and stares as we walked down the stairs,” he told Newsweek.
Members of Gen Z enjoy an incredible degree of unpredictable and unorthodox market power. Teenagers duped Sony — the company behind failed superhero flick “Morbius”— into releasing the movie for a second time after ironically praising it through a flurry of internet memes. A petition entitled “We Were All Busy That Weekend — Please Bring Morbius to the Theatre a Third Time” then gained tens of thousands of signatures.
In 2020, TikTok pranksters may have played a role in sabotaging a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for former President Donald Trump. Campaign manager Brad Parscale blamed the low attendance on “fake news media warning people away from the rally because of COVID and protestors, coupled with recent images of American cities on fire.”
Internet culture has also had tangible impacts on the stock market. In 2021, Wall Street was left reeling after amateur investors poured money into GameStop and other companies heavily bet against by financiers. Hedge fund Melvin Capital alone lost 53% on its investments in a single month.