'Minions: The Rise of Gru' delayed as animators unable to complete film due to coronavirus closure

Tom Beasley
'Minions: The Rise of Gru' has been delayed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. (Credit: Illumination/Universal)

Animated blockbuster Minions: The Rise of Gru has been delayed by Universal in the latest summer tentpole release to shift as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The movie had been set for a July release in the UK, but has now been taken off the calendar indefinitely.

Read more: Kevin Hart discusses potential Minions universe

In a statement to Variety, Illumination Animation said that the closure of their studio in France means they will be unable to complete the film before its previously scheduled release date.

Chris Meledandri, CEO of Illumination, said: “With this decision we are abiding by the French Government’s guidelines and doing everything possible to slow the spread of the virus as we care for our artists and their families.

Chris Meledandri attends the premiere of "Minions" at Odeon Leicester Square on June 11, 2015. (Photo by David M. Benett/WireImage)

“This means we will be unable to finish Minions: The Rise of Gru in time for our planned global releases in late June and early July.

“While we all grapple with the enormity of this crisis, we must put the safety and protection of our employees above all.”

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The Rise of Gru will be the fifth film in the Despicable Me franchise and the first since Despicable Me 3 in 2017.

As a follow-up to the 2015 prequel Minions, it will follow the young incarnation of Steve Carell’s villainous character Gru as he rises to the heights of evil witnessed at the start of Despicable Me in 2010.

'Minions: The Rise of Gru'. (Credit: Illumination/Universal)

The spread of the coronavirus has led to the cancellation of dozens of upcoming movie releases, with the majority of UK cinemas closed until further notice.

Among the high-profile films to be delayed are James Bond adventure No Time to Die, animated sequel Peter Rabbit 2 and Disney blockbusters Mulan and Black Widow.

Read more: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Shaun of the Dead coronavirus video

Universal has delayed many of its big releases, including Fast & Furious 9, while sending several major movies to streaming services early — including controversial thriller The Hunt and animation Trolls: World Tour.