Box Office Report: Little Hope for 'Lone Ranger' as 'Despicable Me 2' Soars

Disney Enterprises, Inc.
"The Lone Ranger"

The 3D animated toon has earned nearly $60 million in its first two days, compared to a measly $19.5 million for Disney's $250 million Western headlined by Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer.

There will be no riding off into the sunset for The Lone Ranger, which continued to struggle on Independence Day, even as Despicable Me 2 smashed more records.

From Universal, Despicable 2 took in $24.5 million to score the second-best July Fourth gross behind box-office behemoth Transformers, which took in $29.1 million in 2007. The Lone Ranger grossed a grim $9.9 million for a two-day cume of just $19.5 million.

At this pace, Despicable 2 is headed for a five-day debut north of $130 million, and possibly north of $140 million in a major victory for Universal and animation partner Illumination Entertainment. The event pic cost a modest $76 million to produce.

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Lone Ranger -- headlined by Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer -- may only reach $55 million through Sunday, far from enough considering its hefty production budget of at least $250 million. The tentpole, directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, is almost certain to pose a major financial problem for Disney unless it does extraordinary business overseas.

With Lone Ranger, Disney had hoped to whip up the same magic that BruckheimerVerbinski and Depp created with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. In this latest film, Depp applies his penchant for playing quirky characters to the role of Tonto (Depp says he is part Native American), while Hammer plays the Lone Ranger.

Hollywood will be be paying close attention to Lone Ranger's performance (at one point, it was almost scrapped entirely because of the budget). This past weekend, Sony's big-budget action tentpole White House Down, which cost $150 million to produce, flopped in its North American debut, grossing just $24.9 million.

Despicable 2 is easily walking away with the glory, both domestically and internationally, where it has already earned $75.8 million for an early worldwide total of $134.5 million through Thursday.

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It's also smashing a number of records. In North America, the movie also scored the second-highest Thursday gross in history behind Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($29.1 million). (That doesn't include films that opened on Thursday.) And on Wednesday, Universal's sequel scored the third-highest opening day for an animated feature behind Toy Story 3 and Shrek the Third (both those films opened on a Friday).

In the toonSteve Carell returns to voice the role of Gru, master of the minions, while Kristen Wiig voices the role of Agent Lucy Wilde.

The third new entry of the July Fourth holiday frame is Summit Entertainment's stand-up comedy film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, which grossed a stellar $2.6 million on Thursday from 876 theaters for a two-day total of $7.4 million. Summit is hoping to provide counter-programming for African-American audiences as well as comedy fans. The film, from Codeblack Films and HartBeat Productions, was shot live at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Twitter: @PamelaDayM