The animated minions of "Despicable Me 2" ran rings around their rivals, snapping up more than $140 million over the long holiday weekend and shattering a slew of records.
That makes its debut the biggest five-day opening for an animated film ever, topping the $141 million of "Toy Story 3" in 2010, and the top three-day animated opening in July. To be fair, "Toy Story 3" opened on a Friday over a non-holiday weekend, a much tougher run than Wednesday-Sunday on the July 4 weekend.
The family film from Universal and Illumination Entertainment blew past analysts' expectations, which were at around $110 million for the five days, and the field. It will have taken in $82.5 million between Friday and Sunday, roughly $50 million more than the No. 2 film, Disney's "The Lone Ranger," did during that period.
A "John Carter"-sized bomb for Disney, "The Lone Ranger" took in just $29.4 million for the three-day weekend and $48 million for the total five-day holiday weekend.
"Despicable Me 2" also opened No. 1 in 42 of 46 foreign markets and has taken in more than $293.2 million worldwide since last week.
The weekend's other wide opener, "Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain," brought in $10.1 million for the three days and $17.4 million for the five, from just 876 screens.
The record-breaking weekend is a huge score for Universal, given that the production budget on "Despicable Me 2" was $76 million, low for a major animated movie.
It scored a bulls-eye with families, its target demographic. Audiences broke down 60 percent female, 55 percent under 25 and 40 percent under 17. It scored well with Hispanics, who made up 27 percent of the audience.
"Despicable Me 2" blew away the opening of the original film, which debuted to $56 million over three days around the same time of year in 2009. The success of that one was a surprise, but this sequel didn't sneak up on anyone. Universal's marketers realized early that the first film had connected and launched the campaign behind the sequel early. A teaser trailer in March of last year generated more than 60 million views.
The critics liked it (80 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes), and audiences did, too. It received an "A" CinemaScore from first-night audiences.
Most of the team from the original was back, including co-producer Janet Healy, directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin and writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. Steve Carell returned as Gru, as did Gru's girls -- Margo (voiced by Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher). Russell Brand was back as Dr. Nefario, and Kristen Wiig voiced a different role than the small one she had in the first film. Benjamin Bratt, Moises Arias, Steve Coogan and Ken Jeong joined the cast.
The R-rated Melissa McCarthy-Sandra Bullock comedy "The Heat" finished third with $25 million over the three days in its second week, and its domestic total now exceeds $86 million.
It beat out last week's No. 1 movie, Disney and Pixar's "Monsters University," which brought in roughly $19.6 million over the weekend -- a 50 percent drop from last week -- and a little over $30 million for the five days. "Monsters U" has bought in about $215 domestically and almost $185 million overseas, and will cross the $400 million mark at the global box office Sunday.
Brad Pitt's zombie thriller "World War Z" wasn't far behind at $18.2 million -- just a 38 percent drop from last week -- for the three days, raising its domestic total to $159 million. With another $45 million this weekend, it's overseas total is now $207 million and its worldwide haul is at $366 million.
The Channing Tatum-Jamie Foxx action epic "White House Down" took in $13.5 million for the three days and $19.6 million for the five, raising its total after two weeks to $50 million.