Despicable Me 4 leads Fourth of July box office with $122.6 million ticket sales

Despicable Me 4 leads Fourth of July box office with $122.6 million ticket sales

Illumination and Universal’s Minions franchise continues to dominate as “Despicable Me 4” led the Fourth of July box office with an impressive five-day domestic opening of $122.6 million from 4,428 theaters. This includes a three-day weekend haul of $75 million, bolstered by a stellar A CinemaScore.

This strong start aligns with expectations for the fourth installment in the main franchise and the sixth in the Despicable Me/Minions series, which remains the top-grossing animated franchise of all time. Overseas, the latest movie has already amassed $230 million.

The first “Despicable Me” debuted over the July 9-11 weekend in 2010 with $56 million domestically. The series then shifted its release earlier, becoming a Fourth of July staple. “Despicable Me 2” opened on July 3, 2013, and posted a five-day debut of $143 million. The third installment followed with a $120 million five-day holiday start in 2017.

In terms of the three-day weekend, “Despicable Me 4” grossed $75 million, marking the highest July 4 opener since Illumination’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” collected $107 million in 2022. It is the third-best of all time behind “Gru” and the $83 million earned by “Despicable Me 2” over the holiday weekend in July 2017.

In “Despicable Me 4,” Gru, the world’s favorite supervillain turned Anti-Villain League agent voiced by Steve Carell, ushers in a new era of Minions mayhem. He, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), and their girls (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, and Madison Pola) welcome a new son, Gru Jr. (Tara Strong), who is intent on tormenting his dad. However, Gru and his family are forced to go on the run after facing off with a new nemesis voiced by Will Ferrell and his femme-fatale girlfriend (Sofía Vergara). Other new characters are voiced by Joey King, Stephen Colbert, and Chloe Fineman, while Pierre Coffin returns as the iconic voice of the Minions, and Steve Coogan returns as Silas Ramsbottom.

Chris Renaud, co-creator of the Minions, directed the movie from a script by Mike White (The White Lotus) and Despicable Me veteran Ken Daurio. Patrick Delage co-directed, with Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri producing alongside Brett Hoffman.

The movie’s success marks the second consecutive win for the animated family marketplace after Pixar and Disney’s “Inside Out 2,” which fell to No. 2 in its fourth weekend with an estimated three-day weekend gross of $30 million from 3,760 locations. This brings its domestic gross to $533.8 million, the third-best showing ever for an animated film in North America, not adjusted for inflation. Last weekend, it joined the billion-dollar club in global ticket sales in record time, or 19 days, after posting the biggest domestic debut of the year. This weekend, it surpassed “Minions” to rank No. 5 on the global list of top-grossing animated films with a cumulative $1.217 billion, including $683.3 million overseas.

“Inside Out 2” leads a pack of June releases that have resulted in a dramatic box office rebound. Not long ago, domestic office revenue was running 23 percent behind last year; now that deficit has been narrowed to 17 percent, according to Comscore.

Another movie contributing to the mini-boom is Paramount’s “A Quiet Place: Day One,” which held at No. 3 in its second weekend with a three-day gross of $21 million, bringing its impressive 10-day domestic tally to $94.4 million. The prequel had the loudest three-day debut of the series last weekend, opening to $52 million.

A24’s specialty pic “MaXXXine,” which opened on Friday, placed No. 4 with an estimated $6.7 million from 2,450 cinemas. This is a solid start for a specialty slasher pic with a hard R-rating. An ode to 1980s sexploitation and horror, “MaXXXine” completes Ti West’s trilogy starring Mia Goth. The movie received a B CinemaScore, a high grade for a horror/slasher film.

Sony’s “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” had enough gas left in the tank in its fifth outing to place No. 5 with $6.6 million from 2,664 sites, bringing its hefty domestic tally to $177.4 million. It’s possible the pic could swap places with “MaXXXine” when final weekend grosses are tallied.

Kevin Costner’s big-budget “Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter One,” falling to No. 6, continues to struggle to find its audience. The $100 million period Western, which runs just over three hours, tumbled 50 percent in its second weekend to roughly $5.5 million from 3,325 theaters, bringing its domestic total to $22.2 million. As of now, distributor Warner Bros. hasn’t mentioned how this might impact Costner’s sequel, which is set to open in cinemas in August.

Last year, Utah-based studio Angel Studios made headlines when its film, “Sound of Freedom,” opened to $14.2 million on July 4, enough to top the chart and beat the likes of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” By the end of the long holiday corridor, its domestic tally was north of $41 million. Angel Studios, supported largely by faith-based moviegoers, isn’t replicating that success with this year’s “Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot,” an inspirational drama about a family that adopts 22 kids.

“Possum Trot” isn’t a sequel to “Sound of Freedom,” although both films earned a coveted A+ CinemaScore. “Possum” opened on July 4 and earned a combined $4.7 million on Wednesday and Thursday, according to Angel. For the weekend, it opened to $3.6 million, placing No. 9, according to Comscore.

The box office is suddenly booming after a historically bad first half of the year. “Despicable Me 4,” the Illumination Animation sequel, led the way over the holiday weekend with $75 million in ticket sales from Friday through Sunday and $122.6 million since opening on Wednesday, according to studio estimates. The Independence Day holiday weekend haul for the Universal Pictures release further extends the considerable box-office reign of the Minions, arguably the most bankable force in movies today. It also kept a summer streak going for Hollywood.

Though overall ticket sales were down more than 40% from levels prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, heading into the summer moviegoing season, theaters have lately seen a succession of hits. After Sony’s “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” outperformed expectations, Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” rapidly cleared $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide, making it the first release since “Barbie” to reach that mark. Last weekend, the Paramount prequel “A Quiet Place: Day One” also came in above expectations.

With “Deadpool & Wolverine” tracking for a $160 million launch later this month, Hollywood’s summer is looking up.

“If you look at the mood of the industry about eight weeks ago, very different than today,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “The song says what a difference a day makes. What a difference a month has made.”

It helps to have the Minions at your disposal. Since first debuting in the 2010 original “Despicable Me,” each entry of the franchise — including two sequels and two “Minions” spinoffs — has been seemingly guaranteed to gross around $1 billion. The four previous movies all made between $939 million (2022’s “Minions: Rise of Gru”) and $1.26 billion (2015’s “Minions”) globally. That run has helped give Illumination founder and chief executive Chris Meledandri one of the most enviable track records in Hollywood. “Despicable Me 4,” directed by Chris Renaud and Patrick Delage, returns the voice cast led by Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig and doubles down on more Minion mayhem. Reviews (54% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) weren’t particularly good for the latest installment, which includes a witness protection plot and a group of Minions transformed into a superhero squadron. But in their 12-year run, little has slowed down the Minions.

“This is one of the most beloved franchises, quite frankly, in the history of film, and certainly animation,” said Jim Orr, distribution chief for Universal. “Chris Meledandri and Illumination have their finger on the pulse of what families and audiences around the world want to see.”

Family movies are powering the box office. “Despicable Me 4” performed strongly despite the still considerable drawing power of “Inside Out 2.” In its fourth weekend of release, the Pixar sequel added another $30 million domestically and $78.3 million overseas. “Inside Out 2,” with $1.22 billion in ticket sales thus far, is easily the year’s biggest hit and fast climbing up the all-time ranks for animated releases. It currently ranks as the No. 5 animated release worldwide.

Instead of cannibalizing the opening weekend for “Despicable Me 4,” “Inside Out 2” may have helped get families back in the habit of heading to theaters. “What happened, I think, is the release calendar finally settled into a nice rhythm,” said Dergarabedian, referencing the jumbled movie schedule from last year’s strikes. “It’s all about momentum.”

The continued strong sales for “Inside Out 2” were enough to put the film in second place for the domestic weekend. Last week’s top new film, “A Quiet Place: Day One,” slid to third with $21 million in its second weekend, with another $21.1 million from overseas theaters. That was a steep decrease of 60%, though the Paramount prequel has amassed $178.2 million worldwide in two weeks.

The run of hits has caused some studios to boost their forecasts for the summer movie season. Heading into the most lucrative season at theaters, analysts were predicting a $3 billion summer, down from the more typical $4 billion mark. Now, closer to $3.4 billion appears likely.

The weekend’s other top new release was Ti West’s “MaXXXine,” the third in a string of slasher films from A24 starring Mia Goth. In 2,450 locations, “MaXXXine” collected $6.7 million in ticket sales, a franchise best. The film, which follows “X” and “Pearl” (both released in 2022), stars Goth as a 1980s Hollywood starlet being hunted by a killer known as the Night Stalker.

Angel Studios, which last year released the unexpected summer hit “Sound of Freedom,” struggled to find the same success with its latest Christian film, “Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot.” It debuted with $3.2 million.

Kevin Costner’s big-budget gamble, “Horizon: An American Saga,” didn’t do much to turn around its fortunes in its second weekend. The first chapter in what Costner hopes will be a four-part franchise – including a chapter two Warner Bros. will release in August – earned $5.5 million in its second weekend. The film, which cost more than $100 million to make, has grossed $22.2 million in two weeks.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Despicable Me 4,” $75 million.
2. “Inside Out 2,” $30 million.
3. “A Quiet Place Day One,” $21 million.
4. “MaXXXine,” $6.7 million.
5. “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” $6.5 million.
6. “Horizon: An American Saga, Chapter 1,” $5.5 million.
7. “Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot,” $3.2 million.
8. “Kaiki 2898,” $1.8 million.
9. “The Bikeriders,” $1.3 million.
10. “Kinds of Kindness,” $860,000.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, AP News, The Numbers

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