Almost a decade since they first squeezed loose from the grip of the Despicable Me movies’ framework to become marquee stars in their own right, the Minions have returned once more to conquer global cinema. Not content to simply sit and watch a series of eerily smooth, jaundiced testicle-creatures chatter about bananas without properly celebrating the occasion, the release of Minions: The Rise Of Gru has also seen teenagers wearing suits to the movie in a new viral stunt.
Variety looked at this trend—which is collected on TikTok and Twitter under the hashtag #Gentleminions—and interviewed one of the first people to take part in it. Bill Hirst lives in Sydney, Australia and, when The Rise Of Gru opened in the country two weeks ago, posted a TikTok showing he and group of pals heading to the theater in suits, shaking hands with one another, steepling fingers beneath chins while seated waiting for the movie to begin, and stoically filing out after applauding its credits.
Hirst says one of his friends had seen another video of the trend when it was still just getting started and decided to go “do it just for the fun.” Since his class had “had our formal literally a couple days before that,” they were well prepared to get dressed up. When they arrived at the theater, Hirst’s group of 15 were met by another eight guys doing the same thing, which apparently keeps happening when people head out to the movie.
Case in point is a Maryland teenager named Obie, who, like Hirst, had seen a video of the trend and took part in it with some friends before running into another group that had also dressed up for the movie. Their fateful run-in was documented on TikTok and Twitter.
Theater owners have reacted in opposite ways to these large gatherings of Gentleminions. In the UK, their presence at The Rise Of Gru screenings has been disruptive enough that managers have restricted ticket sales. In North America, at least so far, theaters have been more than okay with the marketing bump. (Universal Pictures, for its part, issued an all-lowercase, first-person #BrandTweet saying “we see you and we love you” to the those coming to the movie in suits.)
In trying to explain why, exactly, the Gentleminions trend has caught on, Variety points out that young men are the primary demographic buying movie tickets right now and that their age group—”seven years old when the first Despicable Me hit theaters in 2010 [and] now around the age of 19"—are primed to go see the movie anyway. Obie and Hirst both agree, the former Gentleminion saying that his generation “now have nostalgia and enough money to see [a new Minions movie] on our own” and are “inclined to do so in our own way.”
This makes sense and—combined with several explanations for their popularity—leads us to the somewhat worrying conclusion that the Minions as a concept not only refuse to go away, but are actually growing in cultural power with every passing year.
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