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Box Office: Families Love ‘Despicable Me 2’; ‘The Lone Ranger’ Bites The Dust, Kemosabe

Box Office: Families Love 'Despicable Me 2'; 'The Lone Ranger' Bites The Dust, Kemosabe

This was a 4th of July weekend for the record books, and we’re not talking about fireworks. With an estimated $220 million worth of tickets sold (a 12% increase from last year’s 4th of July), moviegoers set a new three-day weekend record for the holiday. As for the films themselves, this weekend marked a predicted upset. If we had said a few years ago that a non-Pixar animated sequel would trample a Johnny Depp-starring Disney reboot, you would have called us crazy and gone to the comment section to remind us how critics also snickered at a little theme-park-attraction-turned-movie called “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Well, it looks like that day has come and the not-so-mighty “The Lone Ranger” has fallen to an über-successful “Despicable Me 2.”

Opening with a jaw-dropping estimated $140 million for the five-day and $82.5 million for the three-day weekend, Universal‘s CGI-animated family-friendly “Despicable Me 2” has rocked the 4th of July box office. Starring the voices of Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig, “Despicable Me 2” has former-baddie Gru (Carell) trying to save the world and raise his three girls, with the help of his minions (who will have their own feature film coming out next year). Check out our review here. With the help of familiar animated faces and some great international buzz (made $50 million in six territories even before its U.S. release), this was this weekend’s first choice for families with kids not old enough for “The Heat” and who wanted to get out of it (pardon the pun). On Wednesday, “Despicable Me 2” had the highest opening day ever for an animated feature (behind the Friday opening of “Toy Story 3” and “Shrek the Third“) and marked the highest Wednesday opening of all time for Universal. On Thursday, it had the second highest Thursday gross in history (behind “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen“). With a budget of $76 million, the film has already made its money back three times, on its way to cross the worldwide $300 million mark this weekend.

Opening with a disappointing $48.9 million for the five-day and $29.4 million for the three-day weekend, Disney’s live-action not-as-family-friendly PG-13 “The Lone Ranger” has been lackluster with audiences and critics alike. Starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, “The Lone Ranger” is a reboot of the classic 1930s radio show/1950s television show “The Lone Ranger” with Depp as Native American sidekick Tonto and Hammer as district attorney John Reid (to become The Lone Ranger). Since its “troubled production,” “The Lone Ranger” has been plagued by poor reviews, with a few notable contrarians, and now the film can add poor box office to its list of woes. Check out our review here. With an estimated $215-250 million budget to cover, Depp, director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer will have to wait a while to get their paychecks (all three stipulated during production that they wouldn’t get paid until “The Lone Ranger” broke even). Not even meeting the low-ball estimate of $65 million, “The Lone Ranger” is a major headache for the honchos over at Disney, especially after the disaster known as “John Carter.” As of this weekend, the film marks the third big “flop” of the summer, following “After Earth” and “White House Down.” Will this be Johnny Depp’s “After Earth” or will we all blindly flock to ‘Pirates 5‘ as predicted? On a lighter note, here’s Eric D. Snider’s take on the “The Lone Ranger” pitch meeting.

In its second week, “The Heat” is burning strong with $25 million for the three-day weekend and on its way to passing the $100 million mark in the next week or so with a current running total of $86 million. After two weeks at number one, “Monsters University” has slipped to fourth thanks to “Despicable Me 2” with $19.6 million for the three-day weekend, but still has something to cheer/scare about with a worldwide total of over $400 million. In its third week, “World War Z” made a sizeable $18.2 million for the three-day weekend and crossed the $350 million mark worldwide with a total of $366 million. In its second week, “White House Down” is down further with $13.5 million for the three-day weekend. Still in the air in its fourth week, “Man of Steel” made $11.4 million for the three-day weekend.

Opening with $17.4 million for the five-day and $10.1 million for the three-day weekend, “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain” is a box office surprise with the second highest per screen average on Wednesday ($5,422 per screen). The concert film is a taping of comedian Kevin Hart’s performance at Madison Square Garden, produced with a $2.5 million budget. This means that within the one five-day weekend, “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain” made back more than five times its budget.

In its fourth week, “This Is The End” made $5.8 million for the three-day weekend and only went down 33% since last weekend, the smallest shift on the weekend’s leader board. In its sixth week, “Now You See Me” made $2.8 million for the three-day weekend, though we highly doubt we’ll be seeing it again on the top ten with a drop of 58.2% since last weekend, the largest bump down on the weekend’s leader board.

As for specialty box office, it was a decent 4th of July holiday weekend. Written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, “The Way, Way Back” was way, way up in front of the indie pack. The summer-set coming-of-age tale featuring Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell opened in 19 theaters and made $525,000, averaging $30,263 per theater (the biggest average per theater of the weekend, beating out “Despicable Me 2” and “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain”). The film is set for a wide release on July 26th and is expected to do quite well, especially with Carell in the cast, who felt both indie and mainstream love this weekend with “The Way, Way Back” and “Despicable Me 2.” In second place, holdover Jem Cohen’s “Museum Hours” expanded from 2 to 3 theaters and made $32,328, averaging $10,776 per theater. Close behind in third and in its second week, Pedro Almodóvar‘s “I’m So Excited!” expanded from 5 to 16 theaters and made $149,246, averaging $9,328 per theater. In its fourth week and in fourth place, Morgan Neville’s “20 Feet From Stardom” expanded from 44 to 89 theaters and made $510,133, averaging $5,735 per theater. Past the million dollar mark with a running total of $1.1 million, “20 Feet From Stardom” is reportedly “on pace to become the highest grossing documentary of 2013.” In fifth place and in its fifth week, Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” went down from 217 to 170 theaters and made $847,860, averaging $4,987 per theater. In other holdover news, Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight” is now the most successful installment of the ‘Before’ trilogy starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke (“Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset“) with a running total of $6.6 million in its seventh week and is expected to pass the $8 million mark for its theatrical run.

1. Despicable Me 2 (Universal) – $82,518,000

2. The Lone Ranger (Buena Vista) – $29,432,000

3. The Heat (Fox) – $25,000,000 ($86,398,000)

4. Monsters University (Buena Vista) – $19,590,000 ($216,127,000)

5. World War Z (Paramount) – $18,200,000 ($158,758,000)

6. White House Down (Sony) – $13,500,000 ($50,478,000)

7. Man of Steel (Warner Bros.) – $11,415,000 ($271,206,000)

8. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (Lionsgate) – $10,100,000 

9. This Is The End (Sony) – $5,800,000 ($85,554,000)

10. Now You See Me (Lionsgate) – $2,770,000 ($110,415,000)

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