Honestly, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Despicable Me franchise. I fell asleep during the sequel.
So when Illumination announced that there would be a standalone movie focusing only on the minions (AKA everyone’s Halloween costume last year), I rolled my eyes like many other people.
The obvious comparison is DreamWork’s decision to air a Penguins of Madagascar movie, which is being done for the same reason. Madagascar is another franchise I’ve never care much for, to be clear.
The trailer above is funny, though. And it could very well be a fun and entertaining movie. But red flags go up for me when a studio decides to milk its secondary characters in spinoffs. It usually doesn’t work (think Joey from Friends or the Puss in Boots fiasco).
I just think that if you have to make a movie based on the characters who carry the franchise for you, then that is basically admitting you have a weak franchise on your hands. How to Train Your Dragon doesn’t need to do this because its world is so incredible and rich. Even the TV show is decent.
Pixar movies certainly don’t do this. Even the spinoffs of Pixar’s properties like Planes and the Buzz Lightyear TV show aren’t based on secondary characters. And the latter was actually done pretty well (both conceptually and in execution).
I don’t see this trend going away, though. Animated movies can be risky ventures for studios, so spinoffs based on established properties make perfectly good business sense. Just don’t expect people like me to be enthusiastic about it.