Daily Box Office Analysis
July 3rd, 2013
By David Mumpower
July 4, 2013

Celebrate good times come on!

The fabled July 4th box office week is here. The seven day period containing this American holiday is always among the most lucrative on the box office calendar, ordinarily falling behind only the Christmas-New Year's Day period on the movie calendar. Expectations are always high for this particular week. Yesterday, a trio of new movies entered the marketplace. Two of them appear destined for financial greatness. The other one...is The Lone Ranger.

As anticipated, Minions ruled the day. Despicable Me 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the movie that introduced Gru and his employees/slaves, easily claimed the box office throne yesterday. The shock to many was the amount of revenue earned. Despicable Me 2 grossed $34.3 million in North America, a total that exceeds the opening day of Monsters University. And as you should recall, the Pixar sequel debuted on a Friday. When a movie grosses more on a Wednesday that a two-time defending weekend champion managed on its first Friday, we are talking about a potential juggernaut.

What happens today and tomorrow will be the key to determining the breakout potential of Despicable Me 2. As long time readers of BOP realize, July 4th itself is an anti-holiday with regards to box office. Movie ticket sales decline on the holiday for the most part. July 3rd and July 5th are almost always the better revenue days in this regard. Ordinarily, I would be suggesting that a total in the range of $17-$18 million should be expected for the movie today.

I am starting to believe that the momentum for this title compared with the Thursday calendar configuration could lead to a better-than-normal holiday performance. Such a scenario would afford the Illumination Entertainment production sustained momentum heading into the Friday-Sunday period of the holiday week. If that occurs, all industry expectations for the Universal Pictures release will be obliterated. If Despicable Me 2 has already earned $60 million prior to Friday, realistically a long shot but a possibility to entertain, it has a real chance at a $150 million five-day gross. At this point, the worst case scenario I can model is $125 million, which would be a scintillating debut for a $76 million production.

People love Minions.

What else do people love? Kevin Hart. Yes, I realize that you had expected me to say Johnny Depp but yesterday's events are forcing us all to reconsider that longstanding belief. Hart, the shortest comedian in the industry today, accomplished a box office feat not seen since Eddie Murphy: Raw. On Wednesday, Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain obtained $4.8 million in box office from a paltry 876 locations. BOP's staff ceded much of the credit for the surprise hit, Think Like a Man, to the presence of Hart. After Wednesday's results, I believe it is fair to say that Hart deserved all of that praise and more.

Let Me Explain will surpass the total domestic take of Hart's other concern film, Laugh at My Pain, by Friday afternoon. And THAT concert film was already a shockingly strong performer with $7.7 million earned in North America against a $750,000 budget. Kevin Hart is without question the biggest rock star in the world of comedy right now and probably should have been Disney's choice for the role of the masked vigilante, John Reid, in The Lone Ranger...or maybe he should have been Tonto.

As you have deduced from the above, The Lone Ranger bombed yesterday. And I mean bombed with a capital B. The movie with the budget as large as $250 million depending on whom you trust (correct Hollywood answer: never trust anybody, especially when money is involved) debuted to only $9.7 million. But wait! It gets worse. $2 million of that was attained via Tuesday evening screenings, meaning that only $7.7 million worth of revenue was earned on July 3rd, a de facto box office holiday. Social media buzz has had The Lone Ranger in its crosshairs for a long time now, but people were allowing for the possibility that the movie could snare victory from the jaws of defeat a la World War Z. That...is not going to happen.

The Lone Ranger has become the latest example of a high profile action film with a western theme to cause North American audiences to stifle a yawn. For whatever reason, domestic consumers group the Cowboys vs. Aliens and Wild Wild West variations of the theme differently from "real" westerns such as True Grit. The end result is that Hollywood provides titles such as The Lone Ranger with massive budgets then winds up apologizing to shareholders down the line when the predictable results occur.

Disney had achieved success in the past with Johnny Depp as the non-lead who stole the show. And I am sure that some of our readers will be quick to point out that Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl also started slowly before evolving into a $300 million blockbuster. The principal difference is that people loved that movie. The Lone Ranger is absorbing the sort of frenzy of hatred usually reserved by villagers for Frankenstein's monster. Or the summer movie that featured Frankestein's monster, Van Helsing. BOP has been worried that The Lone Ranger would bomb for a while now. It has now thrown under everyone in the industry's worst case scenario for opening day. Even if it recovers enough over the next four days to gross $50-$60 million, it is still going to be a punchline in North America. Overseas revenue is already The Lone Ranger's only hope. It needed more Minions and Kevin Hart.

Happy Independence Day to our American readers! And, as always, happy Thursday to those of you in the rest of the world who will have no justification for using fireworks tonight. You should still do it, though. Fireworks are loud and shiny. What's not to love?