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Box Office: ‘Despicable Me 3’ Eyes $85 Million in Opening Weekend

Variety logo Variety 6/30/2017 Dave McNary
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Despicable Me 3” is dominating the Independence Day holiday weekend box office with a projected $85 million for the Friday-Sunday period, early estimates showed Friday.

Illumination-Universal’s animated threequel should wind up its opening day Friday with about $30 million at 4,529 locations, including $4.1 million from Thursday night previews. Should the estimate hold, it will be the sixth-best domestic launch weekend of the year after “Beauty and the Beast,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Wonder Woman,” “Fate of the Furious,” and “Logan.”

Sony’s “Baby Driver” is motoring to a respectable second-place finish with around $18 million at 3,226 sites for Friday-Sunday, to go along with $9 million in its first two days — well above studio forecasts. New Line’s Will Ferrell-Amy Poehler comedy “The House” is performing in line with the studio’s muted expectations and should finish with about $13 million at 3,314 venues.

Warner Bros.’ fifth weekend of “Wonder Woman” appears likely to edge the second weekend of Paramount’s “Transformers: The Last Knight” for third place with about $16 million. “Wonder Woman” has already topped $330 million in its first four weeks and trails only “Beauty and the Beast” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” The tentpole is now 49th on the all-time list, topping “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” on Thursday.

“Despicable Me 3” had been expected to provide plenty of fireworks for the Fourth of July holiday weekend amidst forecasts of $90 million to $100 million with the studio estimating a slightly lower take of around $85 million.

The franchise has been a powerful performer with a combined $955 million domestically and $2.7 billion worldwide for 2010’s “Despicable Me,” 2013’s “Despicable Me 2,” and 2015’s “Minions” spinoff. “Despicable Me 2” opened with $143 million in its first five days on July 3-7, 2013; “Minions” grossed an eye-popping $115 million in its July 10-12 domestic launch two years ago.

Steve Carell voices protagonist Gru and his twin brother Dru in “Despicable Me 3” as the siblings team up for a criminal heist while the Minions are imprisoned. “South Park” co-creator Trey Parker joins the franchise to voice new villain Balthazar Bratt. Reviews have been mostly favorable with a current 63% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Despicable Me 3” grossed $20 million overseas in six markets last weekend. It debuts in 48 territories along with North America this weekend, including the UK, Mexico, Russia, Spain, and Brazil.

“The House” was expected to open moderately with forecasts in the $13 million to $16 million range at 3,134 locations, while the studio has projected a slightly lower estimate of $12 million to $14 million. “The House,” co-financed and co-produced by Village Roadshow, centers on a husband and wife starting an underground casino to raise money for their daughter’s college tuition. Critics have shown little affection for “The House” with a 16% “rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes.

The strong performance by “Despicable Me 3” should provide a badly needed jolt to 2017’s overall domestic business, which had totaled $5.55 billion as of June 28 — equal to the same point last year, according to comScore. June’s total was down 5.9% to $979 million and overall summer business was off 7.7% to $1.79 billion, thanks to disappointing performances by such titles as “Baywatch,” “The Mummy,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.”

“Now July will take on the task of reversing the downward summer slide with a selection of titles as diverse as this weekend’s ‘Despicable Me 3,’ ‘Baby Driver,’ ‘The House,’ and next week’s highly anticipated ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ and later the expected critic and audience favorite ‘War for the Planet of the Apes,'” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore.

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