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Universal's 'Minions' hits $1 billion in worldwide box office

Universal's 'Minions' hits $1 billion in worldwide box office
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment's "Minions" has crossed the $1-billion box office milestone. (Universal)

The mischievous minions Kevin, Stuart and Bob have joined the billion-dollar box-office club.

The computer-animated comedy spinoff from the "Despicable Me" franchise has topped $1 billion in worldwide box office receipts, Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment said Friday.

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And it's likely to add considerably more to its coffers when it lands in China next month. Only two animated movies have previously reached the billion-dollar mark -- Disney's "Frozen" and "Toy Story 3."

It marks another milestone for Universal, which has had a remarkable year at the box office. It represents the first time a studio has put out three billion-dollar grossing pictures in one year, the other two being "Furious 7" ($1.512 billion) and "Jurassic World" ($1.628 billion).

The first "Despicable Me" movie came out in 2010 and took in a total of $543 million in worldwide ticket sales. The second one, released in 2013, came in just shy of the $1-billion mark, with $970 million globally.

But Universal capitalized on the popularity of the series' yellow, gibberish-speaking henchmen, employing a scorched earth marketing campaign. The characters appeared virtually everywhere and on every kind of consumer product, including backpacks, Tic Tacs and Amazon delivery boxes.

The franchise also benefited from the growth of the movie business outside the U.S. and Canada. "Minions" has grossed $682 million internationally, more than double the $321.9 million it reeled in domestically.

And "Minions" still has a bit more to go before it completes its run. The movie opens in Italy on Friday, Turkey next week, China on Sept. 13 and then Greece on Sept. 24.

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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