Trailer: 'Minions' spin-off from 'Despicable Me' series

Video screenshot: A strangely banana-shaped Bob and Kevin (R) in the "Minions" trailer

Starring the misguided mischief-makers from Illumination Entertainment's first two "Despicable Me" films, prequel movie "Minions" traces the history of the little yellow critters and their desire to serve the most despicable master around.

For this trailer's purposes, that means pledging fealty to (and then accidentally extinguishing) a roaring but hapless Tyrannosaurus rex, assisting an Egyptian pharaoh with a pyramid project, launching a Napoleonic campaign and frying the vampire lord Nosferatu on his birthday.

But without a worthy leader, the minions have become listless and are in danger of fading into obscurity for good.

So Kevin, Stuart and Bob step forward to find a worthy overseer. Fast forward to 1968, and they've washed up on Manhattan Island: cue chaos.

Director Pierre Coffin also voices the lead trio, building on similar performances in "Despicable Me," "Minion Madness," "Minion Mayhem 3D" and "Despicable Me 2."

Steve Carell and Jon Hamm return as Gru and Herb Overkill respectively, while Sandra Bullock voices Scarlett Overkill, described as "the world's first-ever super-villain."

Alongside them are Hiroyuki Sanada ("Speed Racer") as a Sumo wrestler and British comedian Jennifer Saunders ("Coraline," "French & Saunders"), who plays Queen Elizabeth II once the minion three arrive in London.

And while full threequel "Despicable Me 3" isn't due until 2017, "Minions" is on track for July 10, 2015 in the USA, and during the preceding week or two in a multitude of international territories including France, the UK and Ireland, Belgium, Russia, New Zealand, Argentina and the Netherlands.

"Despicable Me 2" has cleared $970m at the box office since its 2013 release and stands as the fourth highest-grossing animated film of all time behind "Frozen," "Toy Story 3" and "The Lion King."

"Minions - Official Trailer":