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Despicable a hit, Ranger a dud

By BLOOMBERG

This article was published July 12, 2013 at 1:59 a.m.

gru-steve-carell-tries-to-work-with-his-new-partner-lucy-kristen-wiig-in-despicable-me-2-the-fi-lm-beat-the-lone-ranger-to-take-the-top-spot-at-last-weekends-box-office-and-made-more-than-143-million-in-five-days

Gru (Steve Carell) tries to work with his new partner Lucy (Kristen Wiig) in Despicable Me 2. The fi lm beat The Lone Ranger to take the top spot at last weekend’s box office and made more than $143 million in five days.

Despicable Me 2 set box-office records in its debut over the July Fourth holiday weekend, while The Lone Ranger bombed, failing to match even last year’s megaflop John Carter.

Despicable Me 2, took in $143 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters from July 3 to Sunday, building on its strong opening earlier in the week, Hollywood.com said. It marks the biggest five-day opening ever for an animated feature.

The Lone Ranger, by contrast, generated $29 million in three days, missing estimates of $38 million and falling almost $1 million short of the opening for John Carter, the 2012 sci-fi debacle that resulted in a $200 million write-off for Disney. (It opened July 3 and made $48.7 million through Sunday.) The disappointment highlights the risk studios take trying to create new franchises that can lead to sequels.

The Lone Ranger cost about $225 million to make. Based on ticket sales so far, Disney may take a $190 million write-off on the film, said Barton Crockett, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets.

Sixty-eight percent of The Lone Ranger theatergoers were over 25, and 24 percent were over 50, according to Hollis, the Disney distribution executive. He said it’s premature to suggest Disney will have to take a write-off.

Both studios released their movies ahead of the weekend to take advantage of the U.S. Independence Day holiday. The first week in July is traditionally one of the biggest of the year for theaters and filmmakers.

Despicable Me 2, made for $76 million, is the fourth No. 1 opening for Universal this year, following Fast & Furious 6, Identity Thief and Oblivion. Sales of the movie, a sequel to Universal’s 2010 hit about a criminal mastermind who is reformed by a trio of orphans, mean a third installment of the franchise is a near certainty, said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations Co.

“I think that’s a foregone conclusion,” said Bock. “This is probably the most anticipated animated sequel since Shrek 2,” he said, referring to DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.’s hit franchise.

In Despicable Me 2, former criminal Gru is recruited to battle a new super villain. The film, which features the voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig and Russell Brand, was projected to take in $140 million in North America from its opening through Sunday, according to Boxoffice.com.

Despicable Me 2 was praised by critics. Of 138 reviews compiled on Rottentomatoes.com, 75 percent were positive. The film “is light on its feet, visually inventive and very fast with the repartee,” wrote Los Angeles Times critic Betsy Sharkey. “It requires actors who can pull off the many peppery lines at warp speed and in that the film is lucky with its voice cast.”

The Lone Ranger was subjected to harsh reviews. Of 147 critiques compiled by Rottentomatoes.com, only 23 percent were positive.

The film stars Armie Hammer in the title role and Depp as his partner, Tonto. The picture tells the story of the masked crime fighter’s origins as he unites with Tonto to fight a plot by railroad executives and a U.S. Army officer played by Barry Pepper.

Among returning films, Monsters University dropped to fourth place after two weeks at No. 1 with $19.7 million. The Disney film has taken in $216 million since it opened on June 21, according to Hollywood.com.

MovieStyle, Pages 30 on 07/12/2013

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