America loves its minions. The kooky characters were the centerpiece of the marketing campaign for Universal Pictures' "Despicable Me 2" and guess what? Moviegoers can't get enough of them. The sequel to the 2011 blockbuster earned a massive $34.3 million against strong competition on Wednesday and could gross anywhere from $120-130 million over the five-day holiday weekend.
Having a less spectacular debut was Gore Verbinski's "The Lone Ranger." The latest incarnation of the classic Western hero debuted to just $9.6 million. Unless there is a major turnaround in ticket sales "Ranger" is looking at only $40-48 million for the holiday frame. That's substantially below pre-release tracking which at one point - before the reviews started coming in - had "Ranger" in the $60-70 million range. You may remember that the movie almost didn't happen. Disney battled with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Verbinski and star Johnny Depp over the budget before finally giving the project a greenlight. "Ranger" still ended up costing a reported $215 million and throw in an $80 million marketing campaign and the Mouse House has its first serious loss leader of the year.
Luckily, Disney can still smile about the fantastic results for "Monsters University." The Pixar sequel pulled in another $5.4 million Wednesday for a superb $191.3 million in less than two weeks. "Despicable Me 2" has stolen a good chunk of its family audience, but "MU" should still top out in the $240-250 million range.
Dropping to fourth is Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy's "The Heat." The Paul Feig comedy barely lost third place to "MU" with $5.2 million and $55 million in just six days. "The Heat" should easily surpass the $100 million mark later this month.
"World War Z" took the fifth slot with another $3.9 million and $136 million to date. At this point, the Brad Pitt action flick should top off around $170-180 million when all is said and done.
Look for complete box office updates throughout the holiday weekend on HitFix.