Can 'The Lone Ranger' Survive July 4th Weekend?

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The big July 4th holiday weekend box-office saga is far from over, but The Lone Ranger — Disney's big, big-budget, badly reviewed, unintentional disaster movie — already has a grim future when it comes to making good on the big gamble of a weird Western for Independence Day. That, in large part, is thanks to a heavily accented super-villain named Gru and some adorable little dudes called minions. 

As Nikki Finke points out in her analysis for Deadline, it's still early to evaluate the whole extra-long weekend. What with the BBQs and fireworks, she explains that this particular holiday typically "is a slow moviegoing day." But all signs point to Despicable Me 2 doing some serious trouncing. 

The animated film opened to $34.3 million on Wednesday, and added $23.5 million in Thursday's estimates, per Finke. That Wednesday number puts Despicable Me 2 on track to collect $140 million over the full five-day weekend, Grady Smith at Entertainment Weekly reports. By comparison, Finke reports that The Lone Ranger collected $9.6 million on Wednesday and $9.7 million on Thursday. 

Despicable Me 2's performance on Wednesday is pretty remarkable. Finke explains that it's "setting records — the 3rd highest opening day ever for an animated feature, the 8th highest Wednesday opening ever, and the biggest Wednesday opening of all-time for Universal." The film cost only $76 million to make, which is change compared to The Lone Ranger's $200 million-plus budget. The Johnny Depp-starring flick will likely only pull in a total in the $40 to $50 million range this weekend. And there's more bad news for Disney: Westerns don't really play well overseas, though Finke writes that Depp's "worldwide popularity may, repeat may," do some good for The Lone Ranger on the international market. A small piece of good news for the film seems to be that audiences don't hate it as much as the critics have; it nets a B+ CinemaScore.

But The Lone Ranger, in its failures so far, is being hung out to dry as an example of What's Wrong With Hollywood. Over at Vulture, Gilbert Cruz writes: "In addition to being massively expensive, The Lone Ranger also demonstrates the industry’s franchise obsession, origin story laziness, over-reliance on bloodless violence, and its inability to prevent running time bloat." Now that's despicable.

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