"The Lone Ranger" will have to crack its whip to reach the front of the box office pack this holiday weekend.
The big-budget western starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer hit theaters at 7 p.m. Tuesday opposite "Despicable Me 2," but the animated 3-D sequel quickly pulled ahead at the multiplex. Playing in roughly 2,500 theaters, the family film grossed $4.7 million from late shows, according to an estimate from distributor Universal Pictures. During that same time period, "The Lone Ranger" sold $2 million in tickets.
It doesn't appear that the $225-million production has a good chance of catching up with "Despicable Me 2" over the Fourth of July, either. At 8 a.m. on Wednesday, ticket seller Fandango said the PG-rated cartoon was dominating 71% of the day's sales. On Tuesday, meanwhile, roughly half of the transactions on MovieTickets.com were for advance tickets to the animated film; about 10% were for "The Lone Ranger," just slightly more than the 8% the new Kevin Hart stand-up comedy film "Let Me Explain" sold.
"Despicable Me 2," which cost Universal $76 million to make, is already on track to perform better than a handful of recent animated releases. When it hit theaters at 8 p.m. on a Thursday in late June, "Monsters University" grossed $3 million and has since gone on to become a hit, with about $180 million in domestic sales thus far. This weekend, the 3-D Disney sequel will probably dethrone "The Croods" as the biggest animated title of 2013, surpassing the DreamWorks Animation film's $184.5-million tally.
Not that the "Monsters" will be able to gloat for long. Within a few weeks, "Despicable Me 2" will probably have the scarers beat. The original "Despicable Me" grossed $251.5 million in the U.S. and Canada in 2010, and that movie opened with half as much as the sequel is expected to.
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