The teen behind the trend says the viral video was inspired by childhood nostalgia

The teen behind the trend says the viral video was inspired by childhood nostalgia

Bill Hirst knows that people might get confused to see young viewers walking around in suits to see “Minions: The Rise of Gru”.

But the teen behind the “Gentleminions,” who became the latest viral social media trend on TikTok, said the act wasn’t meant to offend or confuse people. It was just something fun that he and his friends decided to do and it exploded unexpectedly.

“I think the trend would have happened with or without me, but I think our TikTok made it more viral than it would have been,” Hirst, 18, said in an interview. “I think it was a really great promotion for the minions.”

Once considered the baddest content on the Internet, Minions from the “Despicable Me” franchise were claimed by Gen Z after videos like Hirst’s one leaked on TikTok. As of Wednesday afternoon, his TikTok, which sees him watch the movie in a suit and tie with his friends, had amassed over 36.6 million views and over 8.7 million likes.

Now, all over the world, people have spotted “Gentleminions” in theaters. As in Hirst’s video, many of the “Gentleminions” TikTok videos show bands wearing suits that flock to the movies, with rapper Yeat’s song “Rich Minion” appearing on the film’s soundtrack in the background. Some videos also show groups posing with bell-shaped hands, the gesture made by Felonius Gru, the protagonist of the “Despicable Me” franchise (voiced by Steve Carell).

Universal Pictures has noticed this too, tweeting July 1: “to all those who show up at @Minions in a suit and tie: we see you and we love you”. (Universal Pictures and NBC News are units of NBCUniversal). A spokesperson declined to comment further on the trend.

Hirst, who was around 6 when “Despicable Me” came out in 2010, said he thinks the trend is likely to have resonated with others because it tapped into the nostalgia Gen Z has for the franchise, which they grew up with. .

“I think one of the reasons” he did so well “is nostalgia,” he said. “I grew up watching all the ‘Despicable Me’ movies. I didn’t mind having to go and watch 1.5 hours to TikTok. It’s a great movie and it reminded me of the memories of watching the” Despicable Me “movies. ” with my family”.

The story behind the video

Hirst came up with the idea of ​​going to the theater in a suit and tie from TikTokers, who suggested doing the stunt but hadn’t posted any videos actually doing it at the time.

He and a group of his friends decided to shoot the video after the end of year ceremony at their school in Sydney, Australia.

The group of 15 said they had their clothes on hand after attending the ceremony. The movie “Minions” was out, so they thought it would be fun to go to the movies all dressed up. Plus, they wanted to celebrate the nostalgia for the movie franchise they “have trouble with.”

On June 27, the group attended the screening of the film. The next day, Hirst posted a video. In it, they don suits, run up an escalator to the theater, cheer as they watch the film, and rate the film a “banana” out of 10.

“Three hours before the movie, we said, ‘Let’s do it,'” Hirst said. “We had to walk through the bottom of this mall. … We kept our faces serious, behaving very professionally. “

He was among the first to post a video of him and his group of friends realizing the “Gentleminions” trend. Sander Mendelsohn, Hirst’s manager, said the reaction was “overwhelming” and “incredible”.

Now, on TikTok, the hashtag “Gentleminions” has 30.6 million views and “Rich Minion” audio has been featured in about 15,500 videos as of Wednesday.

The trend triggers the backlash of some cinemas

Some of those who participated in the trend are said to have been disruptive – a handful of theaters in the UK have even banned fit guests from attending screenings. Some have decided not to show the film at all due to interruptions.

“The numbers and the behavior are not manageable,” Daniel Phillips-Smith, the manager of Mallard Cinema in Guernsey, told the BBC. He said the theater had to stop showing the film due to vandalism and “extraordinarily bad behavior” by large groups. The theater did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

Even representatives from US-based theater chains – AMC, Regal, and Cinemark – did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Another person online shared a screenshot of a video showing a cinema floor littered with popcorn and trash after “The Rise of Gru” was shown. The Twitter user he wrote“this is not very gentleman.”

In a TikTok video uploaded over the weekend, a user shared a video of a cinema staff member saying, “You won’t scream, you won’t clap at the start of this movie. If you do, you’ll walk out with no refund. If you refuse. to leave, we will call the police to have you removed. Also, it is against the law to record any part of the film, even the beginning. “

The staff member goes on to say, “There are people, families, here to see the film. And if you want to stop the film, you can pay for their ticket. ”

Another video circulating online showed a “Gentleminions” mosh pit breaking out in front of a theater. One showed a group of “Gentleminions” being kicked out of a theater because they were too rowdy.

Hirst shunned those who went too far beyond the trend.

“There is a way to have fun and also to be respectful,” he said. “Being polite throughout the film is probably the best way to do it. … Obviously, turning the cinema into a mosh pit is not the right thing to do.”

Can a meme help a movie thrive in theaters?

The “Despicable Me” franchise was very popular long before the “Gentleminions” trend took off.

The latest installment is no different: “The Rise of Gru” broke box office records for the highest opening of films on Independence Day, according to Variety, raising $ 125.1 million on its opening weekend in theaters. North American.

But some experts say the trend has certainly given the film more exposure, especially among younger audiences.

Julia Alexander, director of strategy for Parrot Analytics, an entertainment research firm, said Universal Pictures’ support for the meme without attempting to co-opt it has allowed it to flourish as a viable trend that helps sell tickets.

“Passive Internet activity is really hard to turn into actionable endeavor,” said Alexander. “But if the trend itself is based on a actionable thing that people will do, like buying a ticket, it will work out to really help a studio’s bottom line.”

Some film studios have learned the language of certain platforms, such as TikTok, Alexander said. He pointed to Lionsgate’s TikTok account, which has built brand loyalty by creating content that feels native to the platform, such as hilarious “Twilight” videos or actor Pedro Pascal’s “thirsty trap” videos to promote his recent film. ” The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talento. ” On the other hand, Alexander said, some studios have missed the mark when it comes to capitalizing on viral trends, such as Sony Pictures with “Morbius”.

After the critically crushed “Morbius” became a social media meme, Sony Pictures re-released it in theaters, only to bomb again. Some have suggested that the studio’s decision to re-release the film meant its lack of understanding of meme culture.

The best-case scenario for a study is to support an organic and harmless social media trend rather than trying to generate a trend or trying hard to turn a trend into a financial advantage, Alexander said.

Hirst said he plans to return for the next “Minions” movie in a suit and tie, regardless of whether it’s a box office hit.

“You will see us in the cinema,” he said. “Maybe in a suit and tie and maybe more than before.”

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