Universal Pictures, owned by Comcast Corp., is having a record-breaking year at the domestic box office thanks to “Jurassic World” and “Furious 7.” And we can only expect its success to continue with the release of the animated family film “Minions,” which opens in the U.S. on Friday.
In the second quarter of 2015, Universal Pictures grossed $1.2 billion at the domestic box office, which marks a 469 percent increase from last year’s second-quarter haul, according to a research note from MoffettNathanson. The increase is largely due to the success of “Jurassic World,” the biggest domestic opening weekend of all time, as well as the hit sequels “Furious 7” and “Pitch Perfect 2.” Thanks to “Jurassic World,” a sequel to Steven Spielberg's 1993 dinosaur blockbuster “Jurassic Park,” Universal became the fastest studio to reach $1 billion at the domestic box office.
It’s been a pretty good summer for the Walt Disney Company as well, if not quite as stellar. Disney -- which released “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Pixar’s “Inside Out”, and “Tomorrowland” -- saw its second-quarter earnings only increase by 50 percent compared to last year.
Universal’s success is heartening given the worrying state of the U.S. box office. The 2014 box office was the lowest in three years, and that summer’s box office total was Hollywood’s worst since 2006, or 1997 if adjusted for inflation.
With the release of “Minions,” a spin-off of “Despicable Me,” Universal is on track to make more waves. The animated comedy grossed $6.3 million in Thursday night previews, the highest preview gross of any animated film, and is on track to earn between $95 million and $110 million in its opening weekend in the U.S. If it does gross over $100 million, “Minions” will beat “Inside Out” for the best opening for an animated movie and will become the the fourth movie in 2015 to open to $100 million, joining “Furious 7”, “Jurassic World,” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
The studio is also leaving Disney, Warner Bros. and others in the dust internationally. Again, thanks mostly to dinosaurs and fast cars, Universal is the fastest studio to shoot past $3 billion at the global box office. “Minions,” which has been out abroad for several weeks, also contributed $141 million to Universal’s international gross. The previous record holder was 20th Century Fox in October 2014.
That said, there’s still time for another studio to beat Universal before 2015 closes. As TheWrap points out, Disney still has four major films forthcoming, including “Ant-Man” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and some analysts suspect the latter will gross over $2 billion globally. Furthermore, Warner Bros. has 15 movies that will hit theaters between now and the end of the year.