Distributor Universal Pictures owes all of its success in getting audiences back to theaters, at least in part, to The Gentleminions.
Gentleminions are young people who film themselves in festive attire, flooding unsuspecting cinemas to see the latest “Minions” flick, and hollering at the screen like they’re lining the ring at Wrestlemania. TikTok teens may not be the audience Illumination had in mind when it put together the latest animated children’s film, but they’ve still turned out in droves thanks to the viral trend — the hashtag #Gentleminions has over 22 million views and counting the platform.
However, the gentleminions are not always welcome. They’re popping up in theaters everywhere from the US to Australia and countries in between, causing so much chaos that some theaters ban them from buying Minions tickets if they show up in a suit.
If you spot a gentleminion while touring Minions, don’t panic – they’re usually harmless if they’re annoyingly obsessed with the little yellow menaces. That’s how the weird trend started — and how teens on TikTok became the Minions’ biggest fans.
How Minions Became Ironic Icons
To understand the Gentleminions, one must first understand the Minions themselves.
Minions first came onto the scene when the first Despicable Me premiered in 2010. Instantly, viewers were drawn to the elongated creatures in coveralls serving villain-turned-softie Gru. With names like Kevin and Bob, a penchant for drag, and a totally unique rendition of the word “banana,” the Minions made themselves popular with viewers across generations — including Facebook users of a certain age, some of whom started sharing Minions memes conveying the thankless exhaustion of parenthood.
And then there are the tongue-in-cheek Minion memes shared by disrespectful youngsters and jaded adults. The minions, these users posit, are funny because they are Not funny but they are So unfunny that the same memes have become funny again. Somehow, within this cycle of seriousness and irony, the Minions have become what they always aspired to be: comedy legends.
Now in 2022, the kids who grew up with Minions are now young adults and very fluent on the internet. Enter the Gentlemen.
The gentleminions wear suits and wreak havoc
To be a gentleman you have to come to the cinema in formal attire – usually a suit and tie. After purchasing a ticket for Minions: The Rise of Gru, you must film yourself before, during, and after the film to show your excitement. One has to cheer, jump for joy and generally disrupt the viewing experience to live up to the gentleminion ethos. And then, of course, you have to post your trip on TikTok and set the clip to a song called “Rich Minion” by rapper Yeat.
Why dress up for a night at the theater? Bill Hirst, an Australian teenager whose Gentleminions video has received millions of views, told Variety it was all “just for fun” after he and his friends saw another group of boys on TikTok wearing suits at the cinema dressed.
“We just put on our suits and went straight to the theaters,” he said. “It was very spontaneous”
In some cases, however, the gentleminions’ mostly innocent joy has waned. The only cinema in Guernsey in the British Isles had to cancel showings of the film after a mob of gentleminions ransacked the theater and caused some children to burst into tears at the screenings, its manager has told the BBC.
Some American theaters have also seen light vandalism: A representative from a major theater chain, who was not authorized to speak on the record, told the Los Angeles Times that his employees were made aware of the trend after some gentleminions caused minor property damage that has been reported at the time no rules preventing them from seeing the film.
Some theaters are banning them, but the Minions support their fans
Movie theaters have long been the preferred domain of many rough teenagers, but the Gentleminions have pushed many movie theaters to the limit. In the UK, amid the chaos in Guernsey and elsewhere, several cinemas have banned certain young people from buying tickets to the film, the Guardian reported. One theater said it would not allow “unaccompanied children in suits” who came to see the Minions wreak havoc.
Whether American theaters will take the same steps to contain the chaos remains to be seen. CNN reached out to national chains AMC, Regal and Cinemark for comment on their response to the Gentleminions trend and is awaiting feedback.
Meanwhile, Universal Pictures has embraced The Gentleminions wholeheartedly: In a tweet
Last week, the company wrote, “To everyone who shows up at @Minions in suits: see you and we love you.”
The Minions themselves even sent the Gentleminions a video greeting on TikTok, wishing them “Bobspeed.” Their new “fans” may watch the film for insincere laughs, but the Minions go to the bank with their teasing.