Weekend Wrap Up: Gru and the Minions Bring the Fireworks

The Fourth of July is always one of the most interesting holidays at the box office. The day itself acts as an anti-holiday, as most people are more interested in swimming, cookouts, and spending time with their families. However, the few days surrounding the fourth can often act like weekend days and, as a result, films can pull in huge business over the whole holiday weekend. This year, Gru and the minions came in and crushed all competition and expectations. Pixar might need to watch their back.

Despicable Me 2

People really liked the first Despicable Me. I thought it was a little bland, but enjoyable and clever. But nowhere is the public’s love of DM more apparent than in the massive debut of this sequel. Getting started on Wednesday, DM2 pulled in $35 million, more than the opening day of Monsters University. From that point on, we knew we were looking at something huge. For the three day weekend, DM2 grossed $82.5 million and has made $142.1 million since Wednesday.

If the film had opened on a Friday and hadn’t burnt up so much demand on its first two days, we probably would’ve been looking at a three-day weekend in the range of $90-95 million. This is a simply stunning debut, one which I definitely did not see coming. With $140 million in just five days, DM2’s chances of reaching $300 million seems borderline guaranteed. $400 million is possible, but quite unlikely. Regardless, this is easily one of the most impressive debuts of any animated feature, and it should be fun to see how it holds up in the weeks to come.

While the debut of DM2 was nothing but good news, the opening of The Lone Ranger is nothing bad. Managing a meager $29.4 million over the weekend and $48.9 million since Wednesday, it’s safe to call this an outright flop, especially considering its astronomical budget. I figured this film would be bad months ago, and lo and behold, it managed just a 24% at Rotten Tomatoes. Even Johnny Depp’s starpower couldn’t save this one. I can’t imagine this will have very good legs, and while $100 million is a small possibility, I just don’t see it happening.

Easing just 36%, The Heat pulled in $25.0 million. With $86.4 million in the bank, this is on pace to beat Identity Thief and might cement Melissa McCarthy, of all people, as a true box office draw. Understandably hit hard by DM2, Monsters University fell 57% to $19.6 million. $216 million in the bank for Mike, Sully and the gang. It’s looking to finish around $250 or $260 million.

Fifth place goes to World War Z, which stabilized this weekend and fell 39%. Grossing $18.2 million brought the total to a strong $158.8 million. The zombie flick could be headed for around $185 million. White House Down fell a bad, but not terrible, 46%, though who knows, maybe it was helped out by the most patriotic holiday of the year. Anyway, an additional $13.5 million lifted its total to $50.5 million. We now know for sure that Olympus Has Fallen will win the battle of these two films. Dropping 45%, Man of Steel still hasn’t really stabilized since its huge debut. Pulling in $11.4 million, the total for Supes stands at $271 million. It looks to finish shy of $300 million, which given its debut, is rather disappointing.

Our third release of the weekend, Kevin Hart, Let Me Explain debuted in eighth, but bear in mind that stand-up concert films are a tough sell and this film was less than half as many theatres as most of the movies in the top ten. Its per-theatre average was quite a bit better than everything other than DM2. $10.1 million for the weekend and $17.5 million in five days. That already more than doubles the entire gross of Hart’s last film, Laugh at My Pain. Kevin Hart is easily one of the most popular stand-up comedians working today.

This is the End dropped 33%, pulled in $5.8 million and brought its total to $85.5 million. It has an outside shot at $100 million, but I think it’ll end up around $95 million. And the top ten draws to a close with Now You See Me, which fell 51%. $2.8 million gives the surprise hit a total of $110.4 million.

This ended up being a very strong Independence Day weekend, almost entirely on the strength of Despicable Me 2. The box office continued its torrid pace that extends all the way back to early May and Iron Man 3. Next weekend brings us a film that either seems to be a breakout sleeper hit or a huge flop, Pacific Rim. I’m fascinated to see how the film is, quality-wise, and how it performs. Should be very interesting. Oh, and Grown Ups 2 also opens.

Until we meet again.

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