‘Despicable Me 4’ Tops July 4 Holiday Box Office With $122.6 Million

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Gru set off fireworks at the box office as America celebrated its birthday.

“Despicable Me 4,” the latest chapter in Universal and Illumination’s long-running franchise about a recovering supervillain who trades in world domination for a family life, dominated the competition earning $122.6 million over the five-day period and $75 million during the three-day weekend. The movie opened on Wednesday, allowing it to capitalize on the Fourth of July holiday. Internationally, the film earned $106.9 million from 52 markets, bringing its global earnings to $229.5 million. Even better, “Despicable Me 4” carries a relatively economical $100 million production budget, which should make it very profitable for the companies behind it, to say nothing of all the Minions merch they will sell. For context, films at Pixar and Disney, Illumination’s main rival, routinely cost $200 million to make.

One of those Disney and Pixar productions, “Inside Out 2,” continued to be a box office juggernaut, nabbing $30 million for a second place finish. The animated sequel about the emotional life of a teenage girl has been the summer’s biggest hit, earning $533.8 million domestically and $1.2 billion globally (it passed “Minions” to be the fifth highest-grossing animated release in history). Paramount’s “A Quiet Place: Day One” earned $21 million over the weekend for a third place finish, bringing the horror prequel’s domestic gross to a sterling $94.4 million.

Box office analysts believe that the movie business is regaining its stride after a horrendous start to the summer, one that saw well-reviewed films like “The Fall Guy” and “Furiosa” flop, leaving ticket sales down nearly 28%. Things are shifting now, with new installments in franchises like “Despicable Me,” “Inside Out,” “A Quiet Place” and “Bad Boys” closing the gap — revenues are now down just under 17%.

“What a difference a few heavy-hitters can make,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. “They really moved the needle and you can feel momentum building.”

It wasn’t all sequels and prequels over Independence Day. A24’s “MaXXXine,” a horror-thriller about a starlet-targeting killer that unfolds in 1980s Hollywood, debuted to $6.7 million for a fourth place finish, while Angel Studios’ “Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot,” a faith-based drama about the members of a rural church and the foster children they help, earned $3.2 million over the weekend and $6.8 million since opening on Thursday. The Utah-based Angel Studios scored an outsized hit with last summer’s “Sound of Freedom,” which was geared at Christian audiences and opened over the Fourth of July in 2023 before earning more than $250 million. Given its modest start, don’t look for “Sound of Hope” to come anywhere near to achieving that kind of success. “MaXXXine’s” results were also slightly below projections, which had the film debuting to a little more than $8 million. The bulk of the film’s audience was comprised of men between the ages of 18 to 34 and “MaXXXine” was strongest in coastal cities like New York and Los Angeles, as well as in Austin, Texas where Alamo Drafthouse, a movie theater chain that caters to cinephiles, over-indexed.

Sony’s “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” the latest Will Smith and Martin Lawrence exercise in quips, pyrotechnics and vehicular destruction, rounded out the top five. It earned $6.5 million to bring its domestic haul to a healthy $177.4 million.

Elsewhere, Kevin Costner’s costly Western “Horizon: An American Saga — Chapter 1” seems ready to amble off into the sunset without much in its saddlebags. The film, a passion project that Costner mortgaged his ranch to make, earned $5.5 million over the weekend, bringing its domestic total to a disastrous $22.2 million. A second installment in what is intended to one day be a four-film series is scheduled to open in August. Costner is in production on a third chapter, though after audiences rejected the first one, questions remain about the commercial viability of his labor of love.

That’s not the case with “Despicable Me,” which has shown remarkable endurance, spawning sequels and spinoffs, since the first film opened in 2010. Every single one of the film’s has opened in first place and the series has becoming virtually synonymous with the Fourth of July, with nearly every installment debuting during the period.

“It’s a tremendous debut for a franchise that is now many installments in,” Jim Orr, Universal’s head of distribution, said. “People around the world love Gru and the Minions and find them to be clever and adorable and hysterically funny.”

The success of “Despicable Me 4” continues a hot streak for Illumination, which has fielded hits like “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Sing” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and become one of the hottest brands in movies. Orr praised the company and its founder Chris Meledandri for “having their thumb on the pulse of what audiences want.”

The latest “Despicable” adventure features the voice of Steve Carell as Gru and introduces new foils in the form of Will Ferrell (playing a French bad guy named Maxime Le Mal) and Sofia Vergara (as Maxime’s partner in love and crime). But it’s the Minions, the adorable, anarchic, gibberish-spouting creatures who have captured kids’ hearts, becoming Illumination’s mascot in the process. When asked if there might be more Minions movies in the future, Orr responded quickly. “Absolutely,” he said. “Particularly after a debut like this one.”

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