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Box Office: ‘Despicable Me 2’ Soars With $142 Mil, While ‘Lone Ranger’ Stalls With Less Than $50 Mil

Independence Day B.O. weekend bests previous three-day record set in 2011

Moviegoers went gaga for Universal’s yellow minions this weekend, with “Despicable Me 2” grossing a boffo $142 million in five days, condemning Disney’s masked vigilante in “The Lone Ranger” to sidekick status as the film disappointed with $48.9 million through Sunday.

Globally, “Despicable Me 2,” from Illumination Entertainment, reached a whopping $293.2 million. This weekend, the toon, which scored an ‘A’ CinemaScore rating, grossed an additional $88.8 million from 45 overseas territories, bringing its international cume to $151.1 million.

“The Lone Ranger,” which bowed day-and-date in roughly 30% of the international market, grossed $24.3 million.

SEE MORE: How Replacement Villain Became Unlikely Hero in ‘Despicable Me 2′

The $73.2 million global start for “The Lone Ranger” is nowhere near what the $225 million-budgeted film needed to earn for Disney execs to breathe easily. In fact, “Lone Ranger” actually earned less from Friday to Sunday domestically, with an estimated $29.4 million, than what “John Carter” made during its debut frame ($30.2 million) last year. Yet, while there is virtually no hope left for “The Lone Ranger” even to break even, the film’s summer play period gives it a distinct advantage over the “John Carter” disaster, which bowed in March.

“We obviously hoped we would connect to a broader audience,” admitted Disney distribution topper Dave Hollis. “I think the frustrating thing is that as you’re putting a film like this together, with talent like Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp, you feel like all the ingredients are there.”

Popular on Variety

SEE MORE: ‘The Lone Ranger’ Film Review

Bowing well this weekend, Lionsgate-Summit’s stand-up concert docu “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain” grossed a solid $17.5 million in its first five days.

Overall, Stateside box office expanded just about as far as it could stretch, taking in a record $222 million in three days — higher than the previous Independence Day three-day weekend benchmark set in 2011.

SEE MORE: Film Review: ‘Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

Holdover business also was robust as Fox’s R-rated comedy “The Heat” led with an estimated $25 million in three days, down just 36%. Even Disney/Pixar’s animated leftover “Monsters University,” which crossed $400 million worldwide this weekend, held up well against “Despicable Me 2,” dropping just 57%, for a projected $19.6 million weekend gross.

“The Heat” has cumed north of $86 million domestically in two weeks; “Monsters U,” meanwhile, reached an impressive $216 million in three.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight debuted Sundance comedy “The Way, Way Back,” which averaged an estimated $30,263 from 19 theaters. The distrib plans to expand the film into 13 additional markets next weekend before going wide on July 26.

(Two-dimensional) toon power

With the recent success of “Monsters University,” added to this weekend’s outstanding opening for “Despicable Me 2,” the domestic box office has been fueled recently by animated fare becoming all-audience events.

Despicable Me 2,” which cost just $76 million to produce and estimated $82.5 million from Friday to Sunday, now has the fourth-highest three-day opening for an animated film, surpassing “Monsters U’s” $82.4 million Stateside debut. Neither film performed well in 3D, however. The format contributed just 31% for “Monsters University,” and even less for “Despicable Me 2,” with roughly 27%.

The lower 3D take for “Despicable Me 2” (without Imax or other large-format screens) makes sense since exit polls are taken opening day, and mid-week bows during the summer are particularly family-driven. (“Monsters U” opened on a Friday.)

Still, U went to great lengths to attract adult audiences who, similar to children, were drawn to the minion characters, said U domestic distribution prexy Nikki Rocco. The story and main character Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) also were big draws for adults.

Depp charge overseas?

The biggest question left for “Lone Ranger” is how much can Depp add to the pic’s bottom line in major international territories. The actor is one of — if not the — most consistent box office draw internationally, though even Depp faces a ginormous challenge in attracting overseas auds to the iconic American Western.

That’s why Disney is selling the film internationally based on the size and scope of “The Lone Ranger” as an action-adventure film — along with Depp, of course, who plays the painted Tonto. Armie Hammer toplines as the masked hero.

The film

“The Western hurdle is something we’re certainly cognizant of and does impact how we’re positioning the film overseas,” Hollis said.

The film’s top market, by far, this weekend was Russia, which grossed an estimated $6.6 million, followed by Australia, with $3.2 million. The other major day-and-date territories, including Italy, Argentina and South Korea, contributed slightly less than $2 million each.

Domestically, “The Lone Ranger” played unsurprisingly best with over-25 auds, at 68%, of which filmgoers over 50 contributed 24% of the gross. Pic received a decent ‘B+’ CinemaScore, a welcome rating for the older-skewing film given that it’s been mostly panned by critics.

Domestic

Film (Weeks in release): 3-day*; Locations; Per-theater average; Cume*; Percentage change

  1. Despicable Me 2 (1): $82.5; 3,997; $20,645; $142.1; —
  2. The Lone Ranger (1): $29.4; 3,904; $7,539; $48.9; —
  3. The Heat (2): $25.0; 3,184; $7,852; $86.4; -36%
  4. Monsters University (3): $19.6; 3,739; $5,239; $216.1; -57%
  5. World War Z (3): $18.2; 3,316; $5,489; $158.8; -39%
  6. White House Down (2): $13.5; 3,222; $4,190; $50.5; -46%
  7. Man of Steel (4): $11.4; 2,905; $3,929; $271.2; -45%
  8. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (1): $10.1; 876; $11,530; $17.5; —
  9. This Is the End (4): $5.8; 2,104; $2,757; $85.6; -33%
  10. Now You See Me (6): $2.8; 1,606; $1,725; $110.4; -51%

Overseas

Film (Weeks in release): 3-day gross*; Territories; Screens: Int’l cume*; Global cume*; Percentage change

  1. Despicable Me 2 (3): $88.8; 45; 6,849; $151.1; $293.2; +114%
  2. World War Z (3): $45.2; 54; 8,420; $207.4; $366.2; -36%
  3. Monsters University (3): $29.5; 39; n/a; $184.4; $400.5; -33%
  4. The Lone Ranger (1): $24.3; 24; n/a; $24.3; $73.2; —
  5. Man of Steel (4): $21.3; 62; 10,000; $315.6; $586.8; -59%

*in millions of $

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