Universal and Illumination’s Minions marched into the Middle Kingdom today with an estimated $20.1M (125M yuan) opening. That makes it the biggest opening day for an animated film ever in China; roughly 50% higher than the previous record held by Kung Fu Panda 2 (81M yuan). In more recent comps, it’s 40% higher than the three-day weekend of Despicable Me 2 back in January 2014. The first movie in the franchise was never released in China, but DM2 ultimately made about $53M there.
On a local currency basis, Minions‘ first day out is also notably 44% bigger than the three-day opening of Chinese summer hit Monkey King: Hero Is Back (86.5M yuan) which on September 9 set a record as the highest-grossing Chinese animation of all time at 995M yuan ($156M).
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which bowed on Tuesday this week, holds the No. 1 spot for the frame, but this one-day take is good enough for No. 2 and is another remarkable opening for Universal in China this year. It follows the successes of Furious 7 and Jurassic World. The former held the record as the highest-grossing film ever in the market until local pic Monster Hunt just this weekend overtook it after a two-month run.
Minions is the latest Hollywood title permitted entry to the Middle Kingdom since the blackout period ended last month. It’s been building awareness since late August, with Kevin, Stuart and Bob visitng the Great Wall (in a similar stunt to DM2 in 2014).
The full weekend estimate for Minions internationally is $26.1M in 57 territories for a total of $748.5M. Combined with the U.S. gross of $331.6M, the estimated global take is $1.08B meaning Minions will today pass Toy Story 3‘s $1.064B to become the second-highest-grossing animated film of all time worldwide.
Minions will have a window ahead of it in China for the family crowd, but will come face-to-face with Pixels when it releases on Tuesday. That movie was co-financed by LStar Capital and China Film Group. A few weeks later, Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out has now been confirmed for an October 6 release, followed by Disney/Marvel’s Ant-Man on October 16, by which time Minions will have concluded its 30-day allotted slot.