"Minions" took over the box office this weekend, launching with an estimated $115.2 million in the U.S. and Canada.
Overseas, the film collected $280.5 million, for a global total that neared $400 million. It opened at No. 1 in 54 of its 56 international markets.
The film surpassed even the highest industry tracking estimates of $110 million, delivering the second-highest opening for an animated film in North America, behind only the $121.6 million debut for "Shrek the Third" in 2007. "Minions" finished ahead of the $110.3-million opening for "Toy Story 3" in 2010, though when adjusted for inflation, the latter retains its No. 2 ranking.
"Minions," which features the voice of Sandra Bullock as super-villain Scarlet Overkill and co-stars Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney and Steve Coogan, was produced by Universal and Illumination Entertainment for $74 million.
"The minions are fun and the whole family enjoys them," said Nicholas Carpou, Universal's head of domestic distribution. "People were ready for this film."
In 2010, "Minions" precursor "Despicable Me" launched with a surprisingly strong $56.4 million and went on to collect $251.5 million in the U.S. and Canada and $543 million globally. The sequel, which opened over the five-day Fourth of July holiday in 2013, made $368 million domestically and $970.7 million worldwide.
Buzz for "Minions" has been building. It ranked as movie-ticketing website Fandango's top pre-seller among animated films to date. It is also the No. 1 trending film on MovieTickets.com. Trailers for the film have generated more than 250 million views globally.
Moviegoers gave it a solid A rating, according to audience polling firm CinemaScore. An estimated 55% of the film's audience was younger than 25, and 59% were female.
Last year, the market had a dearth of animated family films, which typically draw wide audiences during the summer. Just two were released in summer 2014 compared with six the preceding summer. Analysts said the lack of such films likely contributed to a 5.2% box office decline in 2014 compared with 2013's record of $10.9 billion.
The 2015 box office is up 8% year to date. If early figures hold, weekend ticket sales will be up about 42% from the same period last year, when "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" had a $72.6- million debut.
Holdovers "Jurassic World" ($18.1 million), "Inside Out" ($17.1 million) and "Terminator Genisys" ($13.7 million) came in at second, third and fourth place.
"Inside Out" had been the only other animated film family offering. The Pete Docter-directed Disney-Pixar release blew past early tracking expectations with a $90-million opening last month and has made $283.6 million domestically.
Warner Bros.' horror film "The Gallows" debuted at No. 5 with $10 million. The film, produced by Entertainment360 and Blumhouse Productions, follows students in a small town as they put on a play to honor the anniversary of the death of a student who died 20 years earlier. It was made by first-time directors Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff, whose footage on YouTube caught the attention of Dean Schnider from Management 360 and Blumhouse.
Most moviegoers (53%) were younger than 25, and most were female (52%). Audiences gave the film a C rating on CinemaScore.
"Self/less," a new offering from Focus Features, opened at No. 8 with $5.4 million. The sci-fi thriller, which cost $26 million to make, was financed and co-produced by FilmDistrict and Endgame Entertainment.
The film follows a wealthy man (Ben Kingsley) who is dying of cancer. After undergoing a radical medical procedure, his consciousness is transferred into the body of a healthy young man (Ryan Reynolds). Moviegoers gave it a B-plus rating on CinemaScore.
In limited release, "Amy," a documentary about singer Amy Winehouse, added $1.8 million after expanding to 341 locations in this its second weekend.The film has made $2.1 million to date.