Despicable Me 2 Drives Record Box Office Weekend as Lone Ranger Falters

Box Office, Despicable Me & Lone RangerThe Lone Ranger

is officially on pace to make less than $50 million for the five-day holiday weekend--that's $15 million less that the usually-conservative studio estimates released on Tuesday and frankly a pretty disastrous outing for the film, which cost more than $200 million to make.

For context, that means the Armie Hammer/Johnny Depp vehicle would need to quadruple its opening weekend (at least) in order to make its money back, and that's something that even bona fide hits like Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel have not done this year as a crowded and competitive box office makes it all but impossible to have that kind of staying power.

The Lone Ranger is on pace to generate $48.5 million this weekend--which is actually adjusted up a little bit from the $47 million analysts were calling for yesterday. This will be the second time that a big, expensive genre film from Disney was killed by advance buzz in as many years, with last year's John Carter failing to connect with audiences in spite of stronger reviews and word-of-mouth than Ranger.

Those hoping for a big international presence for the film to help offset domestic losses may also want to temper their enthusiasm a bit; while the film has only opened in a few markets, so anything is theoretically possible, Westerns don't traditionally do great money outside of the U.S., and toxic word-of-mouth--not just from critics, but as a result of this poor opening in the States--could hurt the movie's prospects, too.

That said, the news isn't all bad; Despicable Me 2 has already crossed the $200 million mark globally and is headed for an opening "weekend" of about $140.5 million in the U.S. (up an almost-indecipherable half a million dollars against previous estimates). That, along with continued solid performances from The Heat, Monsters University, World War Z and Man of Steel has put the U.S. box office on a record pace, up double digits over its total gross the same weekend last year and making it the biggest Fourth of July weekend ever.