#GentleMinions lets moviegoers dress up

When Carson Paskill goes to the movies, he usually opts for a comfortable outfit of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. But last weekend he arrived in a black suit, collared white shirt and dress shoes.

Mr. Paskill, 20, attended a screening of “Minions: The Rise of Gru” at Century 16 in Beaverton, Oregon with eight of his friends, all dressed for the occasion, on July 2.

“Everyone over 25 was really really confused about what we were doing there,” said Mr. Paskill, who has 1.6million followers on TikTok. “Like ‘Why is everyone wearing suits?'”

The inspiration is a TikTok trend called #GentleMinions which has garnered more than 61 million views on the platform. It encourages Minions moviegoers to film themselves dressing up in suits and sunglasses to attend screenings of the latest installment in the Despicable Me series.

You may be wondering why suits? The exact answer is hard to pin down. Participants are also encouraged to stock up on bananas, a Minion’s favorite snack, or hold their hands in a steeple pose, Gru’s signature pose.

The first Despicable Me movie was released in 2010 and introduced audiences to Minions, the messy yellow characters in jumpsuits who speak gibberish, and Gru, the villainous main character, voiced by Steve Carell. Four more films followed, Despicable Me 2 in 2013, a Minions spinoff in 2015, and Despicable Me 3 in 2017. Despicable Me 4 is slated for release in 2024 .)

For Obie Ike, 19, and other members of Gen Z, the movies became a staple of his childhood. When he found out there would be another one, he knew he had to check it out for “pure nostalgia.”

Mr. Ike of East Riverdale, Md., and five of his friends bought tickets — and then they learned about the trend.

“We thought it would just be fun,” he said. “It sounds a bit strange, but it’s not harmful and, hey, you just look really good going to the movies.”

After seeing the film, which Mr. Ike described as “really healthy and very well put together,” Mr. Ike and his friends spotted other #GentleMinions also dressed in suits. The groups decided to join forces, posing for photos and TikToks, and trying to “look as gentlemanly as possible.”

Teens around the world, including Australia, Singapore, Portugal and Canada, took part. And while #GentleMinions is a pun on the word “gentlemen,” the trend isn’t just for boys.

Sofia Dominic, 19, attended the Minions screening with Mr. Paskill and friends. She selected black pants and borrowed her boyfriend’s shirt. Another girl in the group wore a black heeled dress which Ms Dominic said “fits right in”.

“Originally it was just a men’s thing,” Ms. Dominic said. “But they’re very inclusive.”

“Minions” broke box office records in its opening weekend and became the highest-grossing premiere during the Independence Day holiday. It has grossed more than $200 million worldwide to date, according to a spokesman for NBC Universal.

Jenna Johnson, an assistant professor at Toronto Metropolitan University who specializes in social media, noted that Universal Pictures, the film’s distributor, has supported and encouraged the social media trend by responding to videos and encouraging young people to wear their suits to the theater.

“What’s interesting is that it looks like an organic, consumer-driven viral social media trend on TikTok, but it could actually be part of an effective PR stunt that’s just getting started,” Ms Johnson said.

Mr. Paskill said that although he has seen previous “Minion” films, taking part in the TikTok Challenge was the main motivation for him to buy a ticket.

“I doubt I would have seen this movie in theaters without the trend,” he said. “But I really enjoyed the film, which is great because it wasn’t just a gimmick. It wasn’t actually a bad movie and I found it quite funny.”

There have been reports of people being disruptive instead of just looking dapper. The videos also encourage their well-dressed participants to clapping enthusiastically throughout the film, which in some cases got out of hand.

A chain of cinemas in the UK forbidden moviegoers of arriving in formal attire after rowdy Gentle Minions disrupted the performances. Other cinemas have too posted warnings to those who showed up in suits that they might be asked to leave.

At the Vue Cinema in Worcester, England, groups of teenagers in suits reportedly clapped, cheered and imitated Minions throughout the film, prompting other attendees to seek refunds, which cost the theater over $1,200. Another theater on the Isle of Guernsey closed its doors for a day after several groups threw things and cursed during the Minions performances.

Mr Paskill said when a security guard saw him and his friends in disguise, the security guard asked them not to disturb. But Ms Dominic said the other viewers took her outfits as a joke and reacted positively to her antics.

“I think most of the videos are largely an attempt to make a viral video rather than trying to wreak havoc,” said Ms Johnson, the social media researcher.

More than creating a viral video or innocent chaos, Mr. Paskill said the challenge gave him an opportunity to get out with his friends.

“With other trends, you see it, and then you just sit in your room and do it,” said Mr. Paskill. “But that was like a whole night, so I thought it was a blast.”

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