Minion memes are hardly new. They’ve been part of online life and our mum’s Facebook news feeds ever since Minions — a spin-off from the animated movie Despicable Me — was released in 2015. But now, in a turn of events that is probably making Morbius marketers tear their hair out, the meme-ability of Minions has directly transitioned into an IRL trend that has led to the kids movie having a projected box office opening of $129M.
Over the past few days, the #gentleminions hashtag has continually trended on Twitter and amassed over three million views and counting on TikTok, as droves of young men don their finest suits in order to attend their local screening of Minions 2 as part of an elaborate, ironic meme which involves inhabiting the “sigma male” and “chad” archetypes.
The joke is that only the most esteemed gentleman can appreciate Minions 2, but of course, the punchline is that the film is an incredibly average family movie that has become oversaturated in pop culture over the past five years.
The amount of esteemed gentlemen showing up to see Minions 2 hasn’t gone unnoticed. UK movie theatre chain Odeon Cinemas reportedly put up a sign banning those in formal wear from screenings, while Universal took to Twitter to thank the attendees, saying, “We see you and we love you.” In order to get an insight into how Minions 2 became the most profitable IRL movie meme of 2022, The Digital Fix spoke to a number of Gentleminions who were in the thick of the action.
@lyndon.c Despicable af 🍌 #fyp #minions #riseofgru #cineplex #gentleman ♬ original sound – billh
“Day by day, there were more and more fine gents appearing on my TikTok doing it,” Jayden Tries, from Doncaster, told The Digital Fix. The 18-year-old said he had no idea where the trend came from, but after seeing it unfold online, rallied up who he describes as “the boys” to go see the movie, “fully suited up.”
“There’s a twist however – I’m the world record holder for the mobile game Minion Rush,” he added. “Therefore, I only felt it was right to hop on the trend as a homage to my success with the game.” According to Tries, he and the boys weren’t alone in dressing to the nines for the theatre trip. “There was another group of fine gents there too, suited to the extreme,” he said. “We formed an alliance and mutual respect for one another’s love for tiny yellow men.”
Dressed for adventure: Best adventure movies
Meanwhile, when 22-year-old Arty saw the movie with a friend in Leeds, the movie theatre was packed with finely-dressed grown-ups. “In the entire theatre, I think there were only two children,” she told The Digital Fix. “Everyone else was teenagers or young adults — many of whom were in suits or Minions cosplay. The strangest thing was that not all of them had come together as a group, they had all chosen individually to watch the movie dressed like that.”
Streets turned us despicable but our money still gru pic.twitter.com/YekGa9PV7x
— BL⭐️CK (@rageriders) July 2, 2022
According to Arty, there was “a lot of interaction” among the audience during the screening — especially during the film’s climax. “People were clapping along to songs, waving their arms and holding up phones as ‘lighters,’” she recalled. “One of the main characters was revealed to have faked his own death and the reaction was insane —cheers, applause, tears.”
A cold one with the boys: The Boys cast
This reception wasn’t just limited to the UK, however. All the way in Indonesia, Mikha Tristan also suited up to watch the movie not once, but twice. “In my country those kind of memes were not popular so, at my movie theatre, I was the only one who wore a suit.” the 17-year-old said. “But a few days later, the meme in my country started booming, and people came into the movie theatre wearing suits when I came to watch Minions 2 a second time.”
Why Minions is crushing the box office. pic.twitter.com/IsFSW7Tkrf
— Rob Keyes (@rob_keyes) July 3, 2022
As for the movie itself, Tristan described it as “surprisingly good and enjoyable,” while Tries said that Minions 2 is “certainly one of the movies ever made.” He added, “The movie itself was just more Minion antics. I liked it more than Minions 1, but part of me still sadly thinks the Minions are behind me now.”
The ideal sigma male: James Bond movies in order
On the way out of his screening, a member of Tries’ party spotted a mutual friend; an employee at the movie theatre. “ I didn’t catch a glimpse of her myself, but my friend did,” he explained “Apparently, the look on her face was ‘disappointed, but hardly shocked.’” Meanwhile, Arty said theatre staff at her venue acted very “indifferent” to the Gentleminions’ antics, and suspects they were “used to it” by the time her screening came around.
20-year-old Brandon, who works at a movie theatre in Ohio, was on the frontlines as the Gentleminions descended onto cinemas over the weekend. “Minions 2 is definitely one of the busiest opening weekends I’ve worked,” he said. “I must have seen about 100 teenage boys in suits coming to see the movie on opening day alone.”
this is not very gentlemanly pic.twitter.com/TiOe7K5L67
— cleo (@cleoofffilm) July 3, 2022
He added that while the majority of Gentleminions were respectful, they received a lot of complaints from other moviegoers about noise and men in suits running up and down the aisles while the movie playing. “Sold out theaters for recent movies like Top Gun and Doctor Strange were nowhere near as messy as the ones for Minions,” he said. “It drew in Spider-Man: No Way Home size crowds but with half the amount of staff working since no one expected it to be this busy for a kids movie.”
our gentleminions 🙌
— #Minions (@Minions) June 29, 2022
The question that remains is why exactly this meme spread offline and translated into action (and ticket sales). “I think treating a showing of Minions like an attendance of Cannes just resonated with people.” Arty theorised, while Tries suggested that the trend is a clear example of “post-irony.” He explained, “People pretend like they’re seeing it ironically, but j genuinely think this is just closeted Minions fans finally feeling they can embrace their love for them through forms of irony. It’s sweet, really.”
Minions: The Rise of Gru is available to watch in movie theatres now — formalwear is optional but encouraged.