Fourth of July moviegoing is about to get animated, with Universal’s toon sequel “Despicable Me 2” expected to trample Disney’s big-budget live-action tentpole “The Lone Ranger,” both of which bow nationwide Wednesday.
“Despicable Me 2,” launching at 3,956 locations, could gross as high as $120 million in five days, while “Lone Ranger,” also at approximately 3,900-plus theaters, is expected to land between $60 million and $70 million through Sunday.
This will be the second weekend recently when a high-profile animated film trounces a fellow live-action release, after “Monsters University” easily beat “World War Z” two weeks ago. That’s not too surprising since toons usually become four-quadrant event pics, though for “World War Z” and “Lone Ranger,” the thrashing is especially embarrassing given their massive production budgets.
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Disney has fought negative press with “Lone Ranger” from very early on in its production, managing expectations against its reported $225 million (or higher) budget.
“Lone Ranger,” which stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, will need to meet opening expectations, at least, in order to have a chance at landing in the black, though overseas prospects for the Western are even more uncertain. Depp could be the pic’s saving grace internationally, but Westerns typically don’t travel well regardless. The film drew strong reactions coming out of CineEurope last week.
“Lone Ranger” launches this weekend in roughly 30% of the international market, including Australia, Italy, Russia and South Korea.
Meanwhile, “Despicable Me 2” benefits from a much more manageable budget of $76 million, which doesn’t account for U’s hefty marketing spend. The last “Despicable Me” wound up making more than $543 million worldwide. The sequel could come close to doubling that, based on how previous animated franchises like “Shrek” have played theatrically.
“Despicable Me 2” has launched in seven overseas territories so far, with more than $50 million. The sequel’s debut in the U.K. last weekend quadrupled the original’s opening there. U expands the toon to another 38 markets this weekend.
At home, “Despicable Me 2” should have a sizable opening day gross before dropping on the Fourth. Typically, the holiday itself is a modest moviegoing day, especially for family films. Around $30 million would be a good opening-day gross for “Despicable Me 2,” considering the film should drop around 30% the following day.
“Despicable Me” and “Lone Ranger” each will rely on solid family turnout over the long weekend.
Disney/Pixar’s “Monsters University” could take a sizable hit this weekend. The film dropped just 45% in its second frame and has cumed north of $178 million domestically through Monday.
Last weekend’s entries, “White House Down” and “The Heat,” will compete for adult attention. The former film, which has grossed nearly $30 million so far, underperformed in its debut frame and will hope the market can expand enough to accommodate the competition. “The Heat,” meanwhile, reached almost $45 million in just four days.
Hoping to ride the holiday specialty B.O. wave, Fox Searchlight bows Sundance coming-of-age comedy “The Way, Way Back,” starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell and newcomer Liam James, at 19 locations.
Film (Distributor): Locations