, in spite of having to recast its villain at the last minute and frankly not a ton of awareness prior to the last few weeks, raked in $4.7 million from midnight showings last night, more than doubling its biggest competition at the box office this weekend, Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger.
Traditionally, even higher-performing kids' movies aren't big hits at midnight screenings--two weeks ago, Monsters University made just $3 million on its way to a massive $82 million opening. The Lone Ranger made $2 million last night, in spite of tracking numbers and word-of-mouth that have gotten better in the last week or so after months of the buzz being that the film was doomed.
The weekend's two big openers are separated by fifty percentage points on the Rotten Tomatoes "Tomatometer," with 75% of critics giving Despicable Me 2 a positive review, as opposed to only 25% of critics for The Lone Ranger (which is up 12% from where it stood when the embargo on reviews first lifted yesterday). Audiences have been kinder to both films, giving The Lone Ranger about 70% positive marks and Despicable Me 2 slightly less than 90%.
The disparity between fan and critical opinion, of course, has been a subject of a lot of conversation the last few weeks, as Man of Steel became the first major superhero film in a while that failed to get a 75% "Certified Fresh" rating for its opening weekend in spite of a massive opening and a strong favorability rating from audiences.
At the start of the year, most analysts expected The Lone Ranger and World War Z to be major flops for their respective studios, with each movie tracking badly and costing $200 million or more to make. World War Z has turned out to be a strong performer for Paramount with a sequel already in the works, and stars Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp have spoken about their desire to make a Lone Ranger sequel--but it's hard to believe lightning could strike twice.
Or, rather, three times. Despicable Me 2 went into the year with some positive buzz in Hollywood, but there was some concern when Al Pacino left the film two months ago that it might be difficult for the studio to satisfactorily re-record the main villain's lines in that little amount of time. Benjamin Bratt stepped in during May, though, and no further problems were reported.
Fandango, meanwhile, is reporting that as of this morning Despicable Me 2 was accounting for 70% of this weekend's preordered movie tickets.