'Despicable Me 2' heads off 'The Lone Ranger' at the box office

The mischievous minions of "Despicable Me 2" seem to be overwhelming "The Lone Ranger" at the box office on this long holiday weekend. The 3-D animated feature opened to an estimated $34.3 million, the biggest-ever Wednesday opening for distributor Universal Pictures.

"Despicable Me 2" looks to be on track to a five-day opening weekend total well beyond the $110 million predicted even just a few days ago.

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On the other hand, Disney's troubled adaptation of "The Lone Ranger," from the core creative team behind the successful "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, isn't rustling up much of an audience, pulling in an estimated cumulative gross of $9.7 million since its first shows on Tuesday night. The film may struggle to meet even its low $60-million estimate for the five-day weekend.

Directed by Gore Verbinski, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and starring Johnny Depp as sidekick Tonto with Armie Hammer in the title role, "The Lone Ranger" has been roundly panned by critics, with a score on Rotten Tomatoes of 23% and Metacritic of 37 (out of a possible 100). It did receive a B+ from CinemaScore's audience exit polling.

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With the voice talents of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand and Steve Coogan, "Despicable Me 2" has been making out better both with critics and audiences. The film has a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes and 61 at Metacritic, and received a CinemaScore of A.

The stand-up concert film "Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain" opened to an estimated $4.75 million for Summit Entertainment. Playing on only 886 screens, it had the second-highest screen average, behind  "Despicable Me 2."

The two films that were battling for the top spot at the box office last weekend, "Monsters University" and "The Heat," each brought in around an estimated $5 million on Wednesday.


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Follow Mark Olsen on Twitter: @IndieFocus


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