Universal's Despicable Me 2 and Disney's The Lone Ranger are both hoping to set off plenty of fireworks at the box office over the long Independence Day holiday weekend.
According to prerelease tracking, Despicable 2 has the definite edge and could hit $110 million by Sunday.
Director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer's Lone Ranger -- starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer -- is a sizeable gamble for Disney, which spent as much as $250 million to produce the adaptation of the classic radio show in the hopes of creating a new live-action franchise for the studio.
As of now, Lone Ranger is tracking to open in the $70 million range, a solid number, though the film will need strong legs domestically and a stellar run internationally to come out ahead financially. Westerns can be a tough sell overseas, but Disney is counting on Depp's star status to make up for any concerns about the genre.
With Lone Ranger, Disney is hoping to whip up the same magic that Bruckheimer, Verbinski 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.
Despicable 2 is much more of a sure bet, considering it's a sequel to a hit. The 3D animated tentpole -- costing a modest $76 million to produce -- opens three years after the first film took the box office by storm. The films are the brainchild of Chris Meledandri's Illumination Entertainment, the animation venture backed by Universal.
Overseas, Despicable 2 has already earned an outstanding $48 million from only seven territories, including six where it opened over the weekend after initially rolling out in Australia the prior weekend.
In the toon, Steve Carell returns to voice the role of Gru, master of the minions, while Kristen Wiig voices the role of Agent Lucy Wilde.
Summit Entertainment enters the holiday fray with stand-up comedy film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, which likewise begins rolling out Tuesday night, hoping to provide counter-programming for African-American audiences as well as comedy fans. The film, from Codeblack Films and HartBeat Productions, will open in more than 800 theaters nationwide.
Let Me Explain, a follow-up to Hart's hit comedy film Laugh at My Pain, was filmed live at New York's Madison Square Garden.
At the specialty box office, Fox Searchlight hopes to galvanize art house crowds with coming-of-age dramedy The Way, Way Back, starring Carell, Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell. The film opens Friday in select theaters.
There's also no shortage of holdover competition, including Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy comedy The Heat and animated tentpole Monsters University.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Johnny Depp
- Gore Verbinski
- Jerry Bruckheimer
- Armie Hammer