'Despicable' minions upset Depp's 'Lone Ranger' at box office
By Lisa Richwine and Chris Michaud
LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The small yellow minions of "Despicable Me 2" upstaged Johnny Depp at the weekend movie box office.
The animated "Despicable" sequel hauled in an impressive $82.5 million in the United States and Canada from Friday through Sunday, more than double the weak $29.4 million for Walt Disney Co's big-budget Western "The Lone Ranger," which stars Depp as the masked man's Native American partner Tonto.
The two films began their box office battle on Tuesday night to grab moviegoers ahead of Thursday's U.S. Independence Day holiday. From their debuts through Sunday, "Despicable 2" earned $142.1 million, while "Lone Ranger" grossed just $48.9 million, below pre-opening forecasts for at least $60 million.
Families lifted "Despicable Me 2," which finished far above industry projections and achieved the biggest-ever five-day opening for an animated film. The movie is a sequel to the 2010 blockbuster featuring Steve Carell as the voice of the lovable villain Gru.
In the new film, Gru is a single father to three adopted daughters and becomes a spy for an anti-villain league. His devoted group of workers, the goggle-and-overall-wearing minions, get more screen time for their slapstick antics and song-and-dance numbers.
Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp, spent $76 million to produce "Despicable 2." The studio unleashed a hefty marketing campaign, including a nationwide tour by a yellow minion blimp called the "despicablimp."
Sales in international markets, where the movie started playing two weekends ago, stood at $151 million through Sunday, Universal said, for a worldwide total of $293 million.
"No one could imagine that 'Despicable Me 2' would do this kind of business," said Nikki Rocco, president for domestic distribution at Universal Pictures. Continued...