Minions Rout Ranger at the Box Office
By John Hamann
July 7, 2013
How did Despicable Me 2 find all of this success? Through a wild marketing campaign that likely cost more to put together than the film itself. The trailer was funny and had a great response in theaters, the TV ads never seemed to repeat and never gave too much away, and the minions were literally everywhere. The “Despicablimp” (yes, you read that right) is a blimp that looks like a minion and has crossed the southern states after starting in Southern California in March. This, my friends is marketing. Every kid in the southern US who saw that blimp had awareness of the film. Lastly, in my mind, the original is one of the better animated films ever released, with a great performance from Steve Carell, and of course the very kid-friendly minions. Universal had the original everywhere prior to release, and was the number one download at Amazon and on iTunes leading up to the weekend. The sequel was 75% fresh at RottenTomatoes which would have helped, as this weekend audiences stayed away from bad films (Lone Ranger, White House Down) and embraced the good one.
For Universal, their golden summer continues. Fast & Furious 6 has already made $235 million domestically and $450 million overseas against a budget of $160 million. The Purge has earned more than 20 times its $3 million production budget as it sits with a domestic total of $63 million. The studio also has three titles with promise still to come this summer, including R.I.P.D with Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, 2 Guns with Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, and Kick-Ass 2. This is becoming an unforgettable summer for the folks at Universal.
Waaaay back in second is The Lone Ranger, and as much as Despicable Me 2 did everything right, The Lone Ranger did everything wrong. First, let's look at the numbers. While Gru and friends earned $34 million on opening day, The Lone Ranger found only $9.7 million, which included Tuesday previews (cue the sound of a record scratching). At that point, after all the effort, the $250 million in production cost, and a likely $125 million marketing cost, it was over for The Lone Ranger. Over. The failure to even get into double digits on opening day spelled the end of Tonto and the Ranger, as the Friday gross usually ends up matching the Wednesday gross, and a number less than $30 million for the weekend proper was going to spell financial disaster for Disney, no matter how you cut it.
The Lone Ranger earned $9.9 million on Thursday (somewhat inexplicably, as usually grosses go down on the holiday). It took in $10.7 million on Friday, and ended the weekend with a three-day gross of $29.4 million, and a five-day of only $48.9 million. A best case scenario for The Lone Ranger has it finishing with a domestic gross of $120 million, or $130 million LESS than what it cost to make. This is a repeat of the Wild Wild West nightmare, and once again it falls on the July 4th weekend.