Despicable Me 4 Steals The Attention of Moviegoers With Strong Opening Weekend

Despicable Me 4 key art - credit: Illumination
Despicable Me 4 key art - credit: Illumination /

The first three Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, and Cars movies each made less than their predecessors domestically. The Shrek franchise eventually hit a new domestic box office low with Shrek Forever After. No matter how seemingly foolproof your animated movie franchise is, it’s bound to hit some box office hiccups. The Despicable Me saga, though, has been one of the sturdiest sagas, animated or otherwise, at the box office. After Despicable Me 3 brought these titles beneath the $300+ million domestic mark, Minions: The Rise of Gru delivered the biggest North American title in the franchise’s history.

This weekend, Despicable Me 4 continued that hot streak with a $75 million debut. Not only did that surpass Despicable Me 3’s domestic opening (that installment didn’t burn off pre-weekend demand with a Wednesday launch), but it’s also the 16th biggest domestic opening weekend in history for a movie that didn't open on Friday. Over its first five days of release, Despicable Me 4 has amassed $121.4 million. No Masters degree in box office history is needed to uncover why Despicable Me 4 was such a massive hit. People loved the previous installments. A zippy light-hearted comedy is a perfect title for families to go see over a holiday weekend. Plus, Illumination’s famously low budgets for its titles means this project, like most of the studio’s output, will be incredibly profitable. Despicable Me 4 reaffirmed the remarkable resilience of those sentient corn pops and their wicked leader.

A new animated family movie juggernaut wasn’t enough to harsh Inside Out 2’s box office buzz. Inside Out 2 $30 million amassed this weekend, a 48% drop from last weekend for a $533.8 million domestic total. Exempting movies like The Revenant and American Sniper that started in limited release (so technically their respective "fourth weekends" were actually their first wide release weekends), Inside Out 2 scored the tenth-biggest fourth weekend in history. Surpassing the domestic haul of Incredibles 2 is all but assured at this point for Inside Out 2, which is now aiming to finish its domestic run in the neighborhood of $630-640 million. With Despicable Me 4 and Inside Out 2 now making nearly $110 million combined just this weekend, all those thinkpieces about theatrical family movies being dead from 2022 are now hysterical “Dewey Beats Truman!” relics.

A Quiet Place: Day One fell 60% in its second weekend to add $21 million for a domestic total of $94.3 million. Look for this one to end its domestic run in the $135-145 million range, a terrific sum for this prequel/spin-off. Even on the low end, that would be only 18% less than the domestic total of A Quiet Place: Part II. Lupita Nyong’o, you can’t contend with her power. Dipping just 33% this frame, Bad Boys: Ride or Die made another $6.5 million for a $177.3 million domestic total. Could this get to $200 million domestically? It'll probably just miss that mark, but you never know. So far, Ride or Die has constantly defied box office expectations. Maybe it’ll do so once more with that $200 million threshold.

The final entry in Ti West’s X trilogy arrived this week in the form of MaXXXine. This horror threequel grossed a disappointing $6.7 million over its opening weekend. The good news is that’s an improvement on the opening weekends of Pearl and X. The bad news is that’s one of A24’s weakest horror wide-release openings. It only came in about 14% ahead of It Comes at Night's opening weekend and that feature wasn't part of a franchise. Before this weekend, there were understandable hopes that the sheer ubiquity of Pearl memes online in the last two years would drive MaXXXine to grosses closer to Hereditary.

However, the marketing for MaXXXine clearly played to the fans of the previous movies without offering much for newcomers. Plus, this sequel continued the story of X rather than directly following the more beloved Pearl. Given how frontloaded this movie was over the weekend, MaXXXine won’t last long in the marketplace, especially with competition from the horror movie Longlegs next weekend. However, MaXXXine should soon surpass X to become the second-biggest movie Mia Goth's ever appeared in, only behind the $43.4 million gross of Everest. Rewatching that 2015 movie must be so weird in 2024. Jason Clarke and John Hawkes are just chatting it up in a grounded movie about climbing Mount Everest and suddenly the woman responsible for "I'M A STAR!" pops into the frame. It’d be like if The Martian featured a supporting turn from Tom Green.

Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 couldn't save any face in its second weekend of release as it dropped a worrisome 50% for another $5.4 million and a 10-day total of $22.1 million. A significantly better second-weekend hold was needed after Horizon's disappointing debut to make profitability anything more than a pipe dream. Look for that title to finish its domestic run between $30 and $35 million. Lord only knows how Chapter 2 does when it premieres in mid-August.

Back in 2014, God’s Not Dead (which was distributed by Freestyle Releasing) turned into a massive hit. In the wake of all that moolah, God’s Not Dead’s production company Pure Flix began its own distribution company that kicked off in April 2015. In its few years of operation, Pure Flix failed to launch further hits as big as God’s Not Dead even with direct sequels to that 2014 sleeper hit. Angel Studios has faced similar struggles after its July 2023 smash hit Sound of Freedom. Subsequent movies like Cabrini, Sight, and now this weekend’s new release Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot have all failed to make a dent financially. While Sound of Hope had a sizeable $3.5 million opening day on July 4th, it collapsed over the weekend and only grossed $3.2 million domestically. Among 2024 movies that opened in over 2,000 theaters, only six other features (including fellow Angel Studios release Sight) had worse opening weekends.

There’s no way Sound of Hope cost much to make. It’ll likely make a profit before it leaves theaters. However, this underwhelming bow reflects what a tough road this title faced on its journey to the big screen. Angel Studios had clearly been sweating over how to make Sound of Hope palatable to the general public for months. The feature's very obvious marketing problems were encapsulated in an awkward decision to rename it from Possum Trot to Sound of Hope (thus making it sound like a quasi-sequel to Sound of Freedom) just weeks before its release. While Sound of Hope got slightly better than usual reviews for a faith-based movie, it's more obscure real-life inspiration and bleaker narrative didn’t help it break out at the box office. With this financial misfire, it could be time for Angel Studios to rethink its strategy. Just ask Pure Flix, it’s tough to make a faith-based distributor work!

Kalki 2898 AD grossed another $1.83 million this weekend, a severe 68% drop from its opening weekend. However, that plummet is fine since this sci-fi blockbuster grossed $16.5 million domestically after only 11 days of release. Can it score that extra $4.2 million in North America to surpass Baahubali 2: The Conclusion to become the highest-grossing Indian movie ever domestically? Probably not since Kalki is fading fast from the marketplace.  However, sometime this week, it will surpass the $17.48 million domestic haul of Pathaan to become the second-biggest Indian film ever in North America. That itself is a tremendous feat rendering Kalki 2898 AD, like Godzilla Minus One and The Boy and the Heron, another recent shining example of foreign-language cinema bringing lots of moolah domestically.

The Bikeriders continued its rapid descent at the box office with a 61% plunge from last weekend and a third-weekend haul of $1.3 million for a $19.3 million domestic total. Expanding into 920 locations this frame, Kinds of Kindness seems to have run out of box office steam already. It only grossed $863,000 this weekend, a 45% drop from last weekend despite its theater count nearly doubling. With a per-theater average below $1,000 this weekend, Kinds of Kindness won’t be able to hold onto its theaters for long. At least its $3.8 million domestic total has already significantly surpassed the North American domestic grosses of past Yorgos Lanthimos movies like The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

Thelma continued its respectable theatrical run with another $790,000 this weekend for a $6.8 million domestic total. Already the fourth-biggest movie ever released by Magnolia Pictures, this welcome win for indie cinema should finish its domestic run in the $8-9 million range. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes fell 64% this weekend to gross another $638,000 in what will likely be its final frame in wide release (it's currently playing in 700 theaters). Apes has now grossed $169.6 million. Despicable Me 4 clobbered The Garfield Movie, which plummeted 74% this frame to gross another $510,000 for a $91.06 million domestic total.

The weekend’s final wide-release newcomer Kill got off to an underwhelming start at 828 locations. This action feature only accumulated $384,490 over the three-day weekend for a dismal $464 per theater average. Combined with a $165,638 domestic opening day on Thursday, Kill has only grossed $550,128 domestically. Roadside Attractions has had an incredibly rough year, with big wide-release titles like Boy Kills World, Summer Camp, and now Kill all underperforming. Despite launching six different 2024 movies to date in 298+ theaters right away, Roadside has yet to yield a 2024 release that's grossed over $2.6 million domestically. It might be time for the studio to try its hand at limited-release titles again.

Losing 70% of its theater this frame, Janet Planet slightly reoriented itself with a $91,847 haul from 90 locations for a per theater average of $1,021. This Annie Baker directorial effort has grossed only $505,018 to date. Can it get another $200,000-ish to surpass Tuesday so it's no longer A24's lowest-grossing 2024 new release? We shall see. In its second weekend, Daddio fell 78% after 2/3 of its theaters, grossing another $90,150 for a $770,731 domestic total. Hijack 1971 opened to $71,000 from 62 locations. A 4K restoration of Seven Samurai opened in a single theater this weekend and grossed $19,000. The-Numbers now claims that Seven Samurai has grossed $290,736 domestically between this opening weekend and a 2002-2003 re-release of Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece. Finally,
Mother Couch grossed $9,150 from a single theater.

Oh yes, and how much did Hundreds of Beavers make last weekend? Another $1,433 from four theaters, with its domestic total standing at $428,146 as of this past Thursday. Despite never playing in more than 33 theaters, Hundreds of Beavers has already surpassed the domestic totals of 2024 movies that screened in hundreds of locations like Scrambled, Miller's Girl, Asphalt City, and They Shot The Piano Player.

The top ten movies this weekend grossed $151.9 million, a 26% increase on this same weekend last year when Insidious: The Red Door frightened up great box office numbers. July 2024 has also grossed $282.8 million to date, putting this month ahead of July 2022, 2018, and 2015 at the same point. In more pleasant news, the gap between 2024 and 2023 also continues to decrease, with 2024 now only being down 17% from last year at the same point. That's still a significant gulf, but remember, 2024 was down 26% from 2023 when June 2024 began.

This coming weekend should be a quiet frame thanks to the new releases being only Fly Me to the Moon and Longlegs. However, Twisters and Deadpool & Wolverine promise to end the month with some fireworks. Better yet, August 2024's slate has potential sleeper hits like Trap, It Ends With Us, and The Forge. What a contrast to the vacant slate of new releases that weighed down August in 2022 and 2023. Reaching the $4 billion haul of summer 2023 is impossible, but the last month of great weekends means there’s now a good chance that summer 2024 can match the $3.39 billion sum of summer 2022. Considering this season started with the dismal $549.9 million haul of May 2024, that would be incredibly impressive.

Mia Goth embodies the modern scream queen in A24’s MaXXXine. dark. Next. Mia Goth embodies the modern scream queen in A24’s MaXXXine