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'Despicable Me 2' runs away with the box office

by JAKE COYLE AP Entertainment Writer on July 08, 2013 11:00 AM

NEW YORK — The minions of “Despicable Me 2” ran away with the July Fourth box office, leaving the Johnny Depp Western “The Lone Ranger” in the dust.

According to studio estimates Sunday, the Universal animated sequel took in $82.5 million over the weekend and $142.1 million across the five-day holiday window.

Gore Verbinski’s reimagining of the iconic lawman bombed for the Walt Disney Co., opening with just $29.4 million over the weekend, and a disappointing $48.9 million since Wednesday.

The trouncing for Disney was especially painful because of the high cost of “The Lone Ranger,” which reportedly cost at least $225 million to make. Made by the same team that created the lucrative Disney franchise “Pirates of the Caribbean” (the four film series that grossed $3.7 billion worldwide), the Western drew bad reviews and failed to capture the attention of younger moviegoers.

“We thought it would appeal to a broader audience than it did,” Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney, said.

Based on the long-running radio program begun in 1933 and the TV series that debuted in 1949, the “Lone Ranger” brand proved a musty one.

The audience for the film skewed heavily toward older moviegoers, with 68 percent of its audience older than 25.

“You think that you have everything in place,” said Hollis, listing the proven box-office commodities of Depp, Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. “Even when you have all the ingredients for what you think will be a four-quadrant, ‘everybody’ picture, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.”

But “The Lone Ranger,” which stars Armie Hammer as the masked lawman, will likely fare better than that disappointment, since Depp’s international star power should bring in better worldwide business.

It started with $24.3 million abroad, opening in about 30 percent of its planned international market.

While critics skewered the film, it did earn a B+ CinemaScore grade from moviegoers.

But “The Lone Ranger” is nevertheless likely to be a sizable write-down for Disney and could impact the company’s stock price when markets reopen today.

“Everybody beat up on ‘The Lone Ranger’ pretty hard,” said Paul Dergarabedian, analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. “Everything was just not going in its favor.”

Fox Searchlight’s family comedy “The Way, Way Back” (which also stars Carell) opened in 19 theaters with a strong theater average of about $30,000. It slowly expands for a July 26 national release.

Estimated ticket sales below are for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included.

1. “Despicable Me 2,” $82.5 million. ($88.8 million international)

2. “The Lone Ranger,” $29.4 million ($24.3 million international)

3. “The Heat,” $25 million ($4.7 million international)

4. “Monsters University,” $19.6 million ($29.5 million international)

5. “World War Z,” $18.2 million ($45.2 million international)

6. “White House Down,” $13.5 million ($6.8 million international)

7. “Man of Steel,” $11.4 million ($21.3 million international)

8. “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain,” $10.1 million

9. “This Is the End,” $5.8 million ($900,000 international)

10. “Now You See Me,” $2.8 million ($8.5 million international)

IMAGE: This file photo provided by Universal Pictures shows the minion characters in the film "Despicable Me 2." Domestic box office numbers so far on this long Fourth of July holiday weekend are suggesting the the animated minions of family favorite, with a price tag one third of what “The Lone Ranger” cost to make, is outperforming the masked man by more than three to one. (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, File)

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