Minions have made millions for the studio with each film making more than the last. Despicable Me made $543m worldwide followed by its sequel earning $970m and then we had the spin off film Minions in 2015 which made $1.159b. Its wild success has spawned a sequel with the pandemic delayed release of The Rise of Gru now upon us.
But The Rise of Gru takes the franchise into new territory on multiple levels, and, notably, to a new time: The 1970s. The decade provided the filmmakers with a diamond-mine of music, fashion and pop-culture references to excavate. “I was about the same age that Gru is in our film when I grew up in the ’70s, so it’s very personal to me,” director Kyle Balda says. “The television, the music, the cars, the hairstyles, the bell bottoms—there was just a lot of flair to everything. And with the vibrant colours, the sparkles, disco—it was a visual decade, for sure, and very nostalgic to look back at this era for inspiration.”
One particular aspect of 1970s pop culture provided an opportunity to elevate the action in The Rise of Gru to a level never seen in any Illumination film before. “Another major reference and inspiration was kung fu films of the ’70s,” director Kyle Balda says. “We scoured a lot of the movies that I enjoyed as a kid. The first one that comes to mind is The 36th Chamber of Shaolin because a lot of the gadgets in that movie were influential to us, but the biggest source of inspiration came through comedic kung fu films. Some of the sequences that we have in this movie are a tribute to that genre and the great work that’s been done in the likes of Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master and Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer.”
That the film looks and feels like no Minions film you’ve seen before is entirely by design. “It’s so important that every film that we make is distinctive, feels fresh and feels like it’s venturing into new terrain,” creator Chris Meledandri says. “That’s not only important in terms of character, story and comedy, but it’s also important in terms of the visceral experience of watching the film—what it looks like and sounds like. Everything that’s wonderful in these movies comes out of the imagination and expertise of the hundreds of people who are working on each one of them. They are the fuel that provides the engine of our ability to make them.”
read our review of Minions The Rise of Gru HERE
Watch The Rise of Gru trailer HERE