Universal’s ‘Despicable Me 2’ Tops Theater Sales

Photographer: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

“Despicable Me 2” follows Universal’s 2010 hit about a criminal mastermind Gru, who changed for the better after he tried to manipulate a trio of orphans to advance one of his schemes. Close

“Despicable Me 2” follows Universal’s 2010 hit about a criminal mastermind Gru, who... Read More

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Photographer: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

“Despicable Me 2” follows Universal’s 2010 hit about a criminal mastermind Gru, who changed for the better after he tried to manipulate a trio of orphans to advance one of his schemes.

The animated comedy “Despicable Me 2” was the top-selling film in U.S. and Canadian theaters at its July 3 opening, taking in $34.3 million in ticket sales for Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s Universal Pictures.

The picture outdrew Johnny Depp in Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s costly “The Lone Ranger,” which had sales of $9.67 million in its debut, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Both studios released their movies ahead of the weekend to take advantage of the July 4 U.S. Independence Day holiday.

“Despicable Me 2,” made for $76 million, is the fourth No. 1 opening for Universal this year, following “Fast & Furious 6,” “Identity Thief” and “Oblivion.” The studio is ranked third in 2013 ticket sales behind first-place Disney and Time Warner Inc. (TWX), according to Box Office Mojo, another researcher.

“Despicable Me 2” follows Universal’s 2010 hit about a criminal mastermind Gru, who changed for the better after he tried to manipulate a trio of orphans to advance one of his schemes.

In the new film, Gru is recruited to battle a super villain. The sequel is projected to take in $140 million from its opening through July 7 and $88 million for the Friday-to-Sunday weekend, according to Boxoffice.com.

After harsh reviews, Disney may struggle to turn a profit from “The Lone Ranger,” which was made for $225 million. Doug Creutz, an analyst at Cowen & Co. in San Francisco, predicts a $100 million write-off for the studio, which would make it Disney’s biggest movie disappointment since last year’s $200 million loss on the science-fiction epic “John Carter.”

Film Projections

Of 135 reviews for “The Lone Ranger” compiled by Rottentomatoes.com, only 23 percent were positive, according to the website.

Projections for the film are $60 million for the five-day period and $38 million for the three-day weekend, according to Boxoffice.com. A final tally will be released July 8.

The movie stars Armie Hammer in the title role and Depp as his partner Tonto. The picture tells the story of the masked crime fighter’s origins as he unites with Tonto to fight a nefarious plot by railroad executives and a U.S. Army officer played by Barry Pepper.

The two new films opened with late-night showings on July 2. “The Lone Ranger” took in $4.7 million and “Despicable Me 2” collected $2 million in those showings, Hollywood.com Box-Office said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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