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'Despicable Me 2' Tramples Over 'The Lone Ranger' (CMCSA, DIS)

'Despicable Me 2' Tramples Over 'The Lone Ranger' CMCSA, DIS

In a war of minions and super villains versus Johnny Depp and the great grandson of an oil tycoon, moviegoers have made it clear who they will choose.

Despicable Me 2, produced by Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) Universal Pictures, has already earned more than three times as much money as its nearest competitor, Disney's (NYSE: DIS) The Lone Ranger.

Designed to revive a series that originated on the radio in the 1930s, The Lone Ranger was produced with an estimated $215 million budget. That's more than double the $76 million production costs for Despicable Me 2.

Bigger budgets do not always transform into box office gold, however. On Tuesday evening, Despicable Me 2 earned an estimated $4.7 million from a number of early screenings shown at roughly 2,500 theaters. The Lone Ranger earned $2 million during the same period.

According to Box Office Mojo's daily statistics, Despicable Me 2 extended its lead on Wednesday, earning an estimated $34.3 million. The Lone Ranger trailed behind with just $9.6 million.

On Wednesday, Box Office Mojo estimated that The Lone Ranger would need to earn at least $70 million by Sunday in order to "get a pass." Anything less than that would be considered a failure.

As of today, has lowered its Friday-Sunday estimate from $35 million to $29 million. With Wednesday included, ticket revenue would jump to $38.6 million.

The film also earned $2 million Tuesday evening. Even with that extra bit of revenue, Disney would still miss the $70 million mark unless it was able to earn $30 million on Thursday. That seems highly unlikely.

Globally, Disney could leverage the power of its lead actor, Johnny Depp, to make up for the lost revenue in America. Depp's appeal might even be strong enough to help Disney turn a profit.

Domestically, that will not be the case. Unless Disney can persuade moviegoers to pile into theaters in the following weeks, The Lone Ranger is very likely to go down as one of the biggest box office disappointments of the year.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

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