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With "Despicable Me 2" dominating the Fourth of July box office, it was no holiday for "The Lone Ranger."
The animated 3-D film had a lot to celebrate over the long Independence Day weekend as it took in an explosive $142.1 million between its debut on 7 p.m. Tuesday and Sunday evening, according to an estimate from distributor Universal Pictures. During that same period, the western starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer mustered up an embarrassing $48.9 million.
Such a weak opening puts "The Lone Ranger" on a pace to become one of the biggest big-budget bombs at the summer box office. Though the season's "White House Down" and "After Earth" have also proven to be disappointments, each film cost around $100 million less to produce than this weekend's flop. Walt Disney Studios had to halt production on "The Lone Ranger" in 2011 when the movie's budget soared to $250 million; the studio says it eventually reduced the cost to $225 million.
"Despicable Me 2," meanwhile, was made on the cheaper side for an animated family film. While most films in the genre have budgets of at least $100 million, Universal and its Illumination Entertainment produced the "Despicable" sequel for $76 million. While the second film received slightly less positive reviews than the 2010 original, audiences gave both films the same average grade -- an A, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
Three years ago, "Despicable Me" launched with a surprisingly strong $56.4 million and went on to collect $251.5 million in the U.S. and Canada -- about 46% of its eventual $543-million global tally. There's little doubt that the sequel will exceed those numbers after doubling the original's domestic opening weekend take.