‘Despicable Me 4’ debuts with $27 million

Gru and his gang of henchmen provide a cracking cinematic spectacle on this Independence Day.

“Despicable Me 4,” the latest entry in Universal and Illumination’s wildly successful animated franchise, opened Wednesday to $27 million. The sequel brings back Steve Carell as Gru, a recovering supervillain turned secret agent, and pits him opposite Will Ferrell as a French villain named Maxime Le Mal. But it’s the minions, those anarchic, highlighter-yellow creatures, that are the biggest draw, having starred not only in the “Despicable Me” films but in a series of spinoffs as well. Expect “Despicable Me 4” to gross around $120 million over the five-day holiday weekend.

The strong showing is welcome news for theaters, which have endured a rocky start to the summer after promising films like “The Fall Guy” and “Furiosa” flopped. Things are changing, however, with Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” Sony’s “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” and Paramount’s “A Quiet Place: Day One” all drawing big audiences in recent weeks. On Wednesday, “Inside Out 2” brought in $7.1 million, bringing its domestic total to $496.5 million. The sequel is now the third-highest-grossing animated film domestically; it is expected to surpass the $500 million mark on Thursday, setting a new milestone. “A Quiet Place: Day One” grossed $4.4 million, bringing its U.S. total to $68.6 million. And “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” grossed $1.2 million, bringing its domestic haul to $169.1 million.

Elsewhere, “Horizon: An American Saga,” Kevin Costner’s epic Western, grossed $1.1 million. So far, the financial disaster has grossed $14.8 million after a one-week run in theaters. Costner, who produced, co-wrote and starred in “Horizon,” also partially financed the multi-part production himself. Despite audience rejection, a second installment is scheduled to open in August and filming has begun on a third chapter.

The “Despicable Me” franchise has become virtually synonymous with the Fourth of July. The 2022 spinoff, “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” also premiered during this part of the calendar and broke records by becoming the highest-grossing film during the holiday, grossing $123 million over the five days. Other films in the series, including 2017’s “Despicable Me 3” ($99 million debut), 2013’s “Despicable Me 2” ($83.5 million debut) and 2010’s “Despicable Me” ($56 million debut), were all released during the same holiday period.

Last year, the box office on July 4 was a race between “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” a flop that ended the once-mighty franchise, and “Sound of Freedom,” a low-budget, faith-based film that became an unexpected commercial giant.

“Despicable Me 4” was directed by series lead Chris Renaud and co-directed by Patrick Delage. In addition to Carell and Ferrell, the voice cast includes Kristen Wiig, Pierre Coffin, Joey King, Miranda Cosgrove, Steve Coogan, Sofía Vergara and Stephen Colbert.

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