Following another lucrative weekend at the global box office for Despicable Me 3, the Despicable Me series has passed the Shrek films to become the all-time highest-grossing animated franchise worldwide. Kicking of in 2010, the first Despicable Me film told the story of Gru (voice of Steve Carell) an evil genius whose nefarious plans for world domination were waylaid when a trio of young sisters he adopted from an orphanage found a way to melt his icy heart.
Bolstered by the presence of Gru's yellow, pill-shaped henchmen known simply as the Minions, Despicable Me became a worldwide blockbuster, taking in $543.1 million ($251.5M domestically, $291.6M overseas) against a $69 million budget, paving the way for two more direct sequels and a Minions spinoff film. And while most sequels struggle to find the same sort of business as their originals earn, Despicable Me 2's ticket sales grew exponentially with a global tally of $970.7 million ($368 million domestically, $602.7 million in foreign territories), and Minions put its two predecessors to shame with a worldwide take of $1.159 billion ($336 million domestically, $823 million worldwide).
Despicable Me 3 isn't looking to match the feat of Minions, but it's a gigantic hit, nonetheless, and the film's global take over the weekend was enough to help the Illumination Entertainment-produced franchise set a new box office record. According to Deadline, the Despicable Me franchise, which includes Minons) is now the top animated money earner of all time with a global cume of $3.528 billion. Despicable Me 3, which took in $21.2 million overseas this past weekend and $5.2 million domestically, earned just enough to push the franchise past the Shrek series, which including the spinoff Puss in Boots, took in $3.51 billion over the course of its five films.
From here, the Despicable Me series only looks to pile millions more onto to its record, since, Deadline reports, Despicable Me 3 has yet to open in Italy, Turkey and Greece. At current the film's global cume stands at $879.4 million ($247 .7 million domestically, $638.7 million overseas), so the pending foreign openings will give the film a shot to cross the $900 million mark when all is said and done.
For the time being, it doesn't look like any film franchise will have a chance to regain the global animated crown from the Despicable Me series, considering Minions 2 is in the works for a 2020 release, and the door was left wide open for more Despicable Me adventures at the conclusion of Despicable Me 3. Shrek may have a chance to gain back some ground, though, since a script for Shrek 5 has been written by former Saturday Night Live writer Michael McCullers.
Apart from the fact that the Minions are outrageously entertaining characters, the success of the Despicable Me series should be widely celebrated. The films did something amazing by winning over audiences with engaging original characters. Hollywood should also take note that it doesn't take breaking the bank to deliver top-quality entertainment, since the films have generally been produced with budgets not exceeding the $80 million mark: a rare mid-size budget for any summer film, much less an animated one.