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'Lone Ranger' flops, 'Despicable Me 2' soars at holiday box office

Failing to fire off a silver bullet, Disney's "The Lone Ranger" posted a grim five-day debut of $48.9 million, far from enough to make up for the high cost of the Johnny Depp-Armie Hammer Western.

Conversely, Universal and Illumination Entertainment's "Despicable Me 2" dazzled, posting a five-day debut of $142.1 million — one of the best showings of all time for an animated film and just ahead of what "Toy Story 3" earned in its first five days.The 3D animated family film fueled one of the best July Fourth holiday stretches on record in terms of overall box-office revenue.

Overseas, "Despicable 2" is also looking like a mega hit. The movie grossed $88.8 million from 45 markets over the weekend for an early international total of $151.1 million and worldwide cume of $293.2 million. The sequel placed No. 1 in 42 of the 45 countries.

Despite Depp's popularity at the international box office, "Lone Ranger" turned in a soft performance as it began rolling out overseas, grossing $29.4 million from 24 markets for a worldwide opening total of $78.3 million. Westerns have always been a tough sell with foreign audiences.

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Coming in No. 3 in North America after "Despicable 2"and "Lone Ranger"was 20th Century Fox's "The Heat," starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. The R-rated comedy held well in its second weekend, falling only 36 percent to $25 million for a stellar domestic total of $86.4 million.

"Lone Ranger" —costing at least $250 million to produce — marks the summer's third major disappointment after Will Smith tentpole "After Earth" and Jamie Foxxand Channing Tatum's "White House Down" — both Sony pics — and is almost certain to pose a major financial headache for Disney. "White House Down"fell to No. 6 in its second weekend, falling 47 percent to $11.2 million for a domestic total of $50.1 million.

With "Lone Ranger," Disney had hoped to whip up the same magic that producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director GoreVerbinski and Depp created with the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, which played heavily to families, as well as adults and teenagers. In this latest film, Depp applies his penchant for playing quirky characters to the role of Tonto (Depp says he is part Native American), while Hammer plays the Lone Ranger.

At one point, before Verbinski began shooting, the plug was almost pulled on "Lone Ranger" because of budget concerns. The filmmakers agreed to bring the budget down to $215 million, but the price tag steadily rose once shooting began (all the stunts are real). Another issue is the film's lengthy running time of 149 minutes.

"Lone Ranger" suffered in appealing mostly to older moviegoers, with 58 percent of the audience over the age of 35, including 24 percent over the age of 50 percent. Moviegoers under the age of 18 only made up 16 percent of the audience. More problematic, families only made up 22 percent of the audience.

\"Despicable Me 2\" helped fuel one of the best July Fourth stretches at the box office ever.AP

"Despicable 2" is easily walking away with the glory, both domestically and internationally.

It's also smashing a number of records. In North America, the family pic scored the second-highest Thursday gross in history behind "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" ($29.1 million). (That doesn't include films that opened on Thursday.) And on Wednesday, Universal's sequel scored the third-highest opening day for an animated feature behind "Toy Story 3" and "Shrek the Third" (both those films opened on a Friday).

In the toon, Steve Carell returns to voice the role of Gru, master of the minions, while Kristen Wiig voices the role of Agent Lucy Wilde.

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The third new entry of the July Fourth holiday frame was Summit Entertainment's stand-up comedy film "Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain," which turned in a solid $17.4 million debut (it's only playing in 876 theaters). Summit succeeded in providing counter-programming for African-American audiences as well as comedy fans. The film, from Codeblack Films and HartBeat Productions, was shot live at New York's Madison Square Garden.

At the specialty box office, Fox Searchlight's "The Way, Way Back" got off to a strong start, grossing $575,000 from 19 theaters for a location average of $30,263, the best of the weekend. Opening Friday, the coming-of-age dramedy, produced by OddLot Entertainment, was directed by Nat Faxonand Jim Rash and stars Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell.