Box office: ‘Lone Ranger’ fizzles as ‘Despicable Me 2’ soars on Friday

It’s only early July, but it looks like we have a third major studio flop of the summer on our hands, courtesy of Disney’s pricey “The Lone Ranger.”

The critically-panned western, starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, came in a distant second place at the box office on Friday, as the animated sequel “Despicable Me 2” ruled the day with $30.2 million. “Ranger” earned just $10.6 million. 

Both films opened on Tuesday, getting a jump on the Fourth of July holiday weekend. “Despicable” has so far earned a hefty $89 million, while “Ranger” has scraped up only $30.1 million.

“Despicable” is surpassing expectations, and will likely earned more than $140 million this weekend, making it one of the biggest openings ever for an animated films. The original 2010 “Despicable Me” opened to $56.3 million and ended up earning $251 million domestically. 

“Ranger” will be lucky to top $50 million by Sunday, and it appears to be the third pricey studio tentpole to underperform in the U.S. so far this summer. Will Smith’s “After Earth” (with an approximate budget of $130 million) opened to a low $27.5 million and stalled at $58.3 million in the U.S. Likewise, Sony’s “White House Down” (budgeted around $150 million) opened to just $24.8 million and has only earned $41.5 million so far, including $4.6 million on Friday.

After several production setbacks and hiccups, “Ranger” reportedly cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 million to produce, meaning it will have to do gangbusters business internationally to make up the loss for Disney, which at least has the stellar success of “Monsters University” to keep them happy.

Meanwhile, the Sandra Bullock-Melissa McCarthy comedy “The Heat” continues to do well, placing third with another $8.6 million. The film’s domestic total stands at $69.9 million, and should have no trouble clearing $100 million fairly soon. 

The aforementioned “Monsters University” scared up $7.1 million on Friday, and with a total of $203.6 million, is one of the year’s biggest grossers so far. 

Rounding out the top five was the Brad Pitt vs. zombies epic, which hunted down $6.3 million. Its domestic total is now a handsome $146.7 million. 

Look for complete weekend estimates tomorrow on HitFix.